When Sun Life, a stop-loss provider that covers high-dollar claims for employers who self-fund their employee health plans, released its annual high-cost claims and injectable drug trends analysis last year, the report illuminated yet another indelible mark left by the COVID-19 pandemic: Although COVID ranked "somewhat ironically" at #19 on its list of high-cost claim conditions over four years, that ranking was only after two years' worth of cases, underlining the severity of the pandemic. For the year 2021, COVID ranked #8 for high-cost claims. The report also rang a number of alarm bells over the pandemic's effect on mental health, noting the precipitous rise of depressive disorders and sleep/wake disorders since 2019.

So where are we now?

Sun Life's 2023 edition of its report shows COVID-19 dropping from #8 in high-cost claims to #11, although it did rise from #19 to #13 on the report's list of top claim reimbursements over the past four years. Sun Life also noted yet another rise in mental health conditions over the past year, this time with alcohol-related disorders leading the charge.

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Richard Binder

Richard Binder, based in New York, is part of the social media team at ALM. He is also a 2014 recipient of the ASPBE Award for Excellence in the Humorous/Fun Department.