Believe it or not, we are already in September of 2021. The year is going by quickly for many, but that doesn’t mean that a lot hasn’t happened, especially in the world of workers’ compensation. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest workers’ compensation trends so far this year. How many of them have affected you?
Telemedicine in the Average Workplace
More employers are picking up workers’ compensation policies that incorporate telemedicine options. Telemedicine allows injured workers to speak with a medical professional from anywhere, adding unmatched convenience to the after-injury process. For injuries that appear minor, like a sprain or minor cut, telemedicine services can be used to immediately connect the injured worker with a medical professional who can assess the situation and advise if further care is necessary.
Growing Gig Economy
The “gig economy” is comprised of workers who mostly get income through gig work. Ridesharing and food delivery services have rapidly become the heart of the gig economy across America, which looks like it will keep growing at least for the next few years. An issue with working for gigs is that nearly all workers in the gig economy are independent contractors who do not get workers’ compensation coverage in most circumstances.
In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, employers of all sorts and in all industries have had to seriously consider their COVID-19 policies. Failing to protect their workers from the virus could result in numerous workers’ compensation claims that could have been prevented. Policies have generally held that exposure to the virus in relation to someone’s work does make them eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits. But proving the link between work and exposure is as tricky as it has been since the pandemic first began.
As COVID-19 cases rise, the number of workers’ compensation claims filed for comorbid conditions has gone up as well. Someone has “comorbid” conditions when two or more medical conditions afflict them at once, typically serious conditions at that. “Long COVID” or the long-term effects of COVID-19 are only now beginning to show in many patients, and the outlook is not encouraging. The virus seems to wreak havoc on the body, potentially causing lifelong problems with the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, and other major organs. When these new problems arise, the patient may need to file a workers’ comp claim for comorbid conditions if the virus or a condition can be related to their work.
When a workers’ compensation claim costs the insurance company more than $3 million to handle, it is sometimes referred to as a “mega-claim” in the industry. Due to the pandemic and its impact on courthouse availability, there is a huge backlog of cases that need to be heard still. The longer cases take to be heard and closed, the steeper administrative costs will be. This combination of factors has caused a rise in “mega-claims” that some are concerned could lead to more undue workers’ comp claim denials.
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