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Industry Insights

Paduda: Work Comp Payers and Service Companies Weigh In on COVID's Impact

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If you really want to know what COVID is doing to workers’ comp, you have to hear from those on the front lines.

Joe Paduda

Joe Paduda

Thirty-five workers’ comp insurers, third-party administrators, state funds, self-administered employers and service companies gave me their views on the impact of COVID-19 and employment on their businesses, claims counts, costs and how they are adapting to a very different climate.

Quick takeaways:

  • COVID claim costs are pretty low, with just a handful of claims exceeding a few hundred thousand dollars.
  • Shutdowns/lockdowns = drop in payroll business closures -> premium decreases, delayed return to work.
  • Respondents see total claim counts dropping 20% for 2020.
  • Tele-everything is growing rapidly but still has a long way to go.
  • Many filed claims are not accepted because:
    • Patient does not have a positive COVID test.
    • Patient is asymptomatic.
    • Employers tend to give workers exposed to COVID-19 two weeks of paid leave. They become WC claims if/when medical care is needed to treat COVID.
  • Presumption is a concern, but less so than it was a couple of months ago.

Winners and losers

Some service companies are generally doing much better than their counterparts if they have no or low debt service cost and onshore business functions that provide services typically used later in the claim’s life, e.g. pharmacy.

Here are more details. A free copy of the summary report is here.

A comprehensive version of the report including respondents’ detailed statements (respondents are not identified) and the accompanying raw data is available for purchase at jpaduda@healthstrategyassoc.com.

What does this mean for you?

For workers’ comp, the economic fallout from COVID is far more significant than COVID itself.

Joseph Paduda is co-owner of CompPharma, a consulting firm focused on improving pharmacy programs in workers’ compensation. This column is republished with his permission from his Managed Care Matters blog.

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