Workers comp could see 20% drop in new injury claims: Survey

The workers compensation system could see a 20% decrease in new injury claims this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey released Monday by Skaneateles, New York-based Health Strategy Associates LLC.

In late May, the consultancy asked 35 workers compensation professionals representing large state funds and insurers, third-party administrators, and large self-insured and self-administered employers about their expectations of workers compensation costs amid of the pandemic.

“Although respondents are somewhat concerned about presumption laws, the major impact has not come from COVID-19 claims and their costs,” said Joe Paduda, principal of Health Strategy Associates.

Respondent service providers said new workers comp claims dropped by as much as 50%, with occupational medicine clinics, transportation companies, imaging, physical therapy, field case management and independent medical providers taking the biggest hit, according to the survey.

The survey also found that payers anticipate premium reductions driven by business closures and payroll drops and also expect to see extended disability for non-COVID-19 claims due to delays in procedures, treatment and the adjudication of cases.

The survey found that most leaders in the workers comp industry do not expect to see a significant number of COVID-19 claims. Combined, the respondents reported a total of 33,000 COVID-19 claims, with a little more than 20% of them accepted. Early figures on such claims have shown them to be generally inexpensive, according to the report. One survey respondent said that 96% of the claims it received cost less than $3,500.

The survey participants also noted that the pandemic has led to explosive growth in telemedicine and that they believe the use of telehealth and telephonic case management will have a positive impact on the workers comp industry.

This article was first published in Business Insurance.

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