US Death Rate Soared in 2020
Summary from Hospice News Today, 12/23/21
U.S. death rate soared 17 percent in 2020, final CDC mortality report concludes
December 22, 2021
Death rates for Americans ages 15 and older rose sharply in 2020, hitting Black and Hispanic Americans the hardest, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report—the agency’s finalized data on 2020 death rates—confirmed that life expectancy in the United States fell last year by nearly two years, the largest one-year drop since World War II. ... Life expectancy overall fell from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77 years in 2020. For males, the average life expectancy fell 2.1 years, from 76.3 in 2019 to 74.2 in 2020. For women, the average decrease was 1.5 years, from 81.4 in 2019 to 79.9 in 2020. ... The average age-adjusted death rate increased by nearly 17 percent, from 715.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019, to 835.4 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020. But the increase for Black and Hispanic Americans was far greater. Death rates increased by almost 43 percent for Hispanic males and more than 32 percent for Hispanic females. Death rates in Black males rose by 28 percent and almost 25 percent for Black females, compared to roughly 13 percent for white males and 12 percent for white females. “That just shouldn’t be happening,” [Dr. Steven] Woolf [director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University] said. “There is this deeply embedded health consequence of systemic racism.” Nine of the 10 long-time leading causes of death in the U.S. stayed the same, with Covid appearing on the list for the first time. Deaths from heart disease remained the leading cause of death, with cancer second, followed by Covid-19, unintentional injuries—which includes drug overdoses—stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, influenza and pneumonia, and kidney disease. Deaths due to heart disease, unintentional injury and diabetes saw the biggest rises. The rise in deaths from these other causes show the impact the pandemic has had on all aspects of health in America, experts say. expectations since the onset of the crisis was the second quarter of 2020. Strict social distancing norms meant that burials were intimate affairs and that less-profitable cremations grew in popularity. It also made it difficult to sell “pre-need” services—funerals and cemetery plots often sold years in advance with funds put in escrow. ... Especially with the latest wave of deaths concentrated among the unvaccinated, by far the highest excess mortality has been among Americans between 45 and 64 years old rather than the elderly. That grim reminder of mortality in a cohort less prepared for it could be behind a big rise in people prepaying for its services with revenue to be realized later. ... The surge in middle-aged deaths has been bad news for life insurers, though. ... In a positive trend for the industry, the number of people below the age of 44 applying for life policies jumped in 2020. And at least one analysis from Munich Re speculates that, since a disproportionate share of Americans who died from Covid had comorbidities such as obesity or high blood pressure, it has left behind a slightly healthier insured population with greater life expectancy.