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Here for the Long Haul – Are Employers and Plans Ready?

By: Kelly Dempsey, Esq.

Change that creates challenge is nothing new for the self-funded industry, which is why the amount of changes that have been required to address COVID-19 are not a shock to our industry. But now that we’re over a year into a global pandemic, the long-term consequences are only beginning to come to the surface. To date the focus has been on prevention and vaccines, but do you know what a long hauler is? No, not a truck driver, a COVID long hauler: individuals who are not recovered from COVID-19 weeks and even months after the initial onset of symptoms (which may include a positive diagnosis). This concept of long haulers includes those that have experienced subsequent diagnoses that are potentially linked to COVID-19. I have a friend who is a long hauler and her story has captivated me as I’ve watched and listened to her discuss her struggles, including the fact that she hasn’t been able to smell or taste since October 2020. It took her months of being her own advocate to find a doctor that didn’t dismiss her persisting symptoms of extreme fatigue, migraines, and heart rate that spikes from 65 to 150 just by standing up. Can you imagine living your life with these symptoms for over 6 months?!? How would this impact your ability to work? Do you know if you’d still have access to health benefits or short term disability benefits? Check out an upcoming new podcast titled "The Mystery Surrounding COVID-19 Long Haulers: Employment & Benefit Considerations" where I’m joined by Phil Qualo to discuss COVID long haulers and some emerging considerations for self-funded plans and employers which are likely to be felt more deeply in our industry in the coming months.