Change the Rules, Change the Perception

Not surprisingly, the public response climbing death tolls has been raw emotion and fear. But are the numbers real?

The death reporting game changed dramatically when CDC issued the “Vital Statistics Reporting Guidance, Report No. 3, April 2020”. The first accounting change shifted tens of thousands of deaths out of Heart and Respiratory diseases into the Influenza and Pneumonia (I&P) category. The impact of this can been seen in the chart, by reassigning the numbers for the 2017/18 flu season, tossing an additional 100,000 deaths into I&P. (No new deaths – just applying the new CDC accounting rule.)

To ensure compliance with the new guidance, additional 20% Medicare payments and new government reimbursement mechanisms were introduced for COVID deaths, creating ample incentive for hospitals and nursing facilities.

Borrowing a few percent from heart disease might sound inconsequential, but given it is more than a 10x multiple, its impact on I&P quickly creates the appearance of a crisis, without a single new death occurring.

We know reported COVID-19 deaths have surpassed Heart Disease deaths on several days, suggesting the new accounting guidance likely exaggerates reality even more than shown in this chart.

At the end of the day, all deaths get tallied up into All-Cause Mortality, and that number will tell its own story. Unfortunately, that data is still a long walk down a dark road.

Meanwhile, that should provide ample time for the opportunists with to sell the perception of death-risk (which is looking like ~0.015%), and a need for distancing, masks and vaccines.

All of this triggered by the opportunity of a virus and a simple accounting change.


Author: Scott Fulton

Longevity Advantage Lead Instructor

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