Staff’ compensation insurers battle with long-term coronavirus fallout

Referring to a study by the National Institute for Health Research that enrolled more than 4,000 people in the US, “They found that 50% of people were unable to work full time six months after they tested positive for COVID , and only 8% of those people were actually hospitalized, so they weren’t the worst cases, “said Teresa Bartlett, Senior Medical Officer at Sedgwick.” 88% of people said they could deal with some form of cognitive dysfunction … and that is such a difficult thing to deal with [on the claims side]. ”

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Studies on ‘long’ COVID-19 are still in their infancy, but there is clearly cause for concern. Respondents highlighted issues related to hair loss, cardiomyopathies, and blood clots in the legs, among others. Healthcare workers who have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic will also be closely monitored for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. “It’s something we need to be very careful about in our industry and we need to be prepared for how we’re going to deal with it,” noted Bartlett.

Again, there are challenges for workers that have already emerged from COVID-19, particularly in identifying trends and predicting future impacts. This is partly because there is no single source of information on compensation for workers in the US, as the data is spread across the NCCI, several independent bureaus, and monopoly states.

“Many believe that NCCI data represents the entire employee compensation industry when in reality it represents less than half of all employee compensation data nationwide,” said Mark Walls, a webinar host and vice president of communications and strategic analysis for Safety National .

Another factor that challenges the analysis of employee compensation data is the existence of self-insured employers, most of whom do not report their data to any of the offices. Several top industries by employment in the US are largely self-insured and together make up over 30% of jobs in the top 20 industries. In addition, a significant portion of the healthcare industry is self-insured – and all of this data is missing from the offices’ analyzes, Walls said.

One of the places to have access to reliable data on employee compensation is the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI). A deeper insight into the institute’s figures shows the most important trends in employee claims related to COVID-19.

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“California as a whole had about 13% of the infections and about 10% of the deaths [in the US]”Said Alex Swedlow, president of CWCI, but he also noted,” Only about 4.7% of working-age infections in California were eligible for employee compensation, and about 5.6% of working-age deaths in California were a corresponding right to employee compensation. ”

As of March 22, 2021, California had reported nearly 140,000 COVID-19 claims, with healthcare accounting for the lion’s share at 31.9%, followed by the public sector at 16.9% and retail at 10.3%, according to the CWCI. COVID-19 also relieves other causes of employee compensation claims.

“We see that in the early stages of COVID we only saw a decline in non-COVID wholesale claims … COVID now accounts for nearly 20% of all claims in our system between March and January,” Swedlow said.

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The characteristics of COVID-19 claims have also evolved since the early reporting days. The healthcare industry’s share of the claims has slowly declined over time, although transportation has risen sharply due to the partial opening of California’s economy. Regarding the regional analysis, Swedlow indicated that regional infections were relatively stable, with Los Angeles unsurprisingly being a constant and central hub of infection.

While there is some data to look into, there is still a lot to be expected in the area of ​​workers’ compensation related to COVID-19. Some experts compare predicting future trends to trying to look into a crystal ball. Part of the problems stems from the fact that there were many COVID-19 claims that were not necessarily diagnosed, especially in the early stages, as people may not have been able to get a test, which must skew the relatively small number of data insurers now look – no matter what effects the long-haul corona virus has.

“We just don’t know what our claims team is going to see later, and without the long-range research we definitely need to be aware of that,” said Kimberly Georges, co-host of the Out Front Ideas webinar and senior vice president – corporate development, mergers and Acquisitions, Healthcare, Sedgwick.

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