Many American employees enjoy healthcare benefits and medical privacy through many different laws by state and federal governments that eliminate discrimination in the workplace and create other privacy issues and employee standards. However, with SARS-CoV-2, the privacy and workplace environment requirements are changing and will continue to change. Some of the current issues that employers, employees, and insurance companies will be forced to deal with are.
- vaccine policies,
- long COVID illnesses,
- unvaccinated and vaccinated benefit coverage, and
- vaccine injuries or disabilities.
Although there are many issues to discuss, let’s review long COVID and vaccine side effects.
There are likely to be tens of thousands of long COVID patients suffering in silence, unsure that their symptoms are connected to COVID-19.
~Athena Akrami, Ph.D., University College London, July 2021
The term “long COVID” was created in the spring of 2020 to describe conditions individuals affected by SARS-CoV-2 may have for several weeks or months. The requirements can be classified as mild or severe with constant or periodical occurrence with various illnesses for confirmed and unconfirmed cases of COVID-19. During 2020, there were 66 symptoms recorded that can affect both adults and children, with claims that there remains a lot to learn about the conditions on how long COVID will impact daily life or long-term health.
The symptoms for long COVID can include the following:
- brain fog
- cardiovascular effects
- chest heaviness
- long-term health impairment
- mental health problems
- muscle aches
- skin rashes
- pins and needles
- poor memory and concentration
- organ damage
- persistent fatigue
Although the terms are used and conditions are documented, the information has not been defined for use in research, clinical diagnosis, or surveillance of the disease, which will continue to impact the insurance industry’s ability to set standards.
Vaccine Side Effects
Vaccinated employees’ short-term and long-term effects from the vaccines and booster shots will remain unknown for everyone worldwide and the insurance industry. It typically takes 10–15 years to approve a vaccine to determine the effectiveness and risks. This, in return, allows insurance companies to create policies with costs that are adjusted to illnesses that may result from vaccines. However, the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines were developed quickly, and the current side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines are being discovered, researched, and documented as the vaccines and booster shots are given. The challenge for insurers will be determining which side effects are eligible to be covered immediately, short-term, long-term, or not at all.
Documented from various research from Israel, United Kingdom, United States, the Journal of Infection, and the Journal of Neurology some of the side effects from vaccines as of September 2021 are.
- antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE)
- blood clots
- damage organs
- demyelinating diseases
- herpes zoster infection
- menstrual changes
- nerve disorder
What happens next?
With all the uncertainties, over the next decade, there will be many issues arising with insurance organizations, employers, and employees that will affect coverage, cost, and employee performance issues. A few areas are highlighted in this section to think about over the next few years.
Research from the past and in the future on SARS-CoV-2, long COVID, vaccines, and booster shots will impact insurance coverage for employees. There will most likely be classifications for the researchers soon that will create awareness for the insurance industry. The definitions of the employee classifications could be defined as below.
- Fully vaccinated employees.
- Fully vaccinated employees with booster shots.
- Vaccinated employees with one vaccine shot.
- Natural immunity with no vaccine, employees who survived COVID-19.
- Natural immunity with vaccines. Employees who survived COVID-19 and participated in the vaccination program.
- Exempt employees that survived COVID-19 who have no antibodies.
- Exempt employees who survived COVID-19 that have antibodies.
- Exempt employees.
The number of individuals and groups that have been granted exemptions is increasing and will continue to grow. Currently, pro sports leagues will not follow the vaccine mandate but will implement a testing program, and some foreign professional athletes have received an exemption from the U.S. federal government. Why? The sporting industry produces billions of dollars yearly globally. Therefore, the exemptions make sense to protect the players from injury or death from vaccines or booster shots. Other employee groups include USPS workers waived under the executive order because it’s an independent agency. The agency has yet to decide its vaccine policy. Why? One might guess, since the union supplies American politicians with millions of dollars for campaign funding each year, it has the power to make its own decisions.