Understanding the Impact of Severe Weather on Healthcare Utilization

R. Dale Hall, FSA, CERA, MAAA, SOA Managing Director of Research

R. Dale Hall, FSA, CERA, MAAA, SOA Managing Director of Research

In February I had the opportunity to attend and present at the National Tornado Summit in Oklahoma City. I discussed joint actuarial research on severe climate, including on post-catastrophe healthcare utilization.

Healthcare utilization can change following a windstorm, which means an increase in ER emergent visits for injuries, post-event viral and fungal infections, and behavioral health treatment, and also fewer routine health visits and non-emergency visits to the ER.  We conducted an initial part of a growing study on 2012-2013 Kansas healthcare utilization following the windstorms in that region. Non-emergent visits declined by six percent in the Kansas health system, while emergent ER visits remained substantially the same. The analysis also indicated the emergence of septicemia and fungal infections in the days following windstorm events, with health visits increasing by 15 percent.

We are continuing to study these types of data points, to help our members, and the industry, understand the challenges, patterns and solutions related to severe weather, including windstorms.

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