Expert estimates long COVID could cost economy $3.7 trillionThe costs of COVID-19 just keep climbing. According to an article from CNBC, long COVID could end up costing the economy over $3.7 trillion dollars, and the yearly average medical costs will be around $9,000 per patient.The estimates come from David Cutler, an economist from Harvard University. He based his estimates partly on previous research on chronic fatigue syndrome, which closely mirrors COVID-19 both in symptoms and treatment options, CNBC reports. Cutler’s total $3.7 trillion estimate includes a combination of costs related to reduced quality of life, reduced earnings, and increased medical expenses for patients. Individual costs will likely vary between $3,700 and $14,000 per person, Cutler estimates, but the average would come to about $9,000 apiece.The Motley Fool notes that other costs associated with long COVID could further inflate these numbers. For instance, in addition to losing income, workers may not be able to add to their retirement funds if they’re out of work due to long COVID, meaning they ultimately lose out on matching employer contributions and tax savings. Per CNBC, around 23 million people in the United States have already contracted long COVID, which the CDC defines as the “long term effects” following a bout with COVID. Not everyone is equally at risk for long COVID: The condition most frequently affects people who have a severe manifestation of the initial COVID-19 illness. Those who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 at the time of their infection may also be at a higher risk for long COVID, the CDC says. Symptoms can include fatigue, fever, difficulty breathing, cough, chest pain, brain fog, and headaches. As many as a quarter of all long COVID patients are out of work, according to KFF.Other studies have been done examining the costs of long COVID in different contexts. For example, one NCCI analysis finds that worker’s compensation paid out an average of $216,000 per claim for hospitalized long COVID workers – significantly more than the average of $53,000 for hospitalized patients without long COVID. Moreover, previous research from August of 2022 found that between 2 and 4 million Americans were out of work due to long COVID, adding up to some $170 billion a year in lost wages, according to The Brookings Institution.Read more: Big gaps in long COVID data: How employers can make health coverage decisionsGreg Vanichkachorn, the medical director of the COVID Activity Rehabilitation Program at the Mayo Clinic, told CNBC of the new cost estimates, “I think it’s important to note that this, again, is an estimate. As new treatment measures come out, things could get more expensive or, hopefully, more affordable.”
This article was originally published by Benefits Pro.