Workers’ Compensation Issues to Watch and COVID-19
In this session at the WSIA 2020 Annual Conference, Kimberly George, Senior Vice President for Corporate Development, M&A, and Healthcare for Sedgwick, and Mark Walls, Vice President for Communications and Strategic Analysis for Safety National, discuss the major issues affecting workers’ compensation this year and how COVID-19 has drastically impacted each.
There is much to consider as the presidential and congressional elections happen later this year. If Democrats take control of the Senate, there may be changes in state workers’ compensation laws. We can also expect COVID-19 to impact voter turnout and how the public responds based on both parties’ reactions to the crisis.
Reopening of the healthcare system amid the pandemic will affect how injured workers are getting the treatment they need. Furthermore, with elective surgeries being postponed, we do not know if some patients are getting better or worse. There is a need to assess the risks of each injured worker to prioritize care appropriately.
Presumption laws across the country are changing based on COVID-19’s impact on the workforce. For example, California just issued the most comprehensive presumption law in the country. Engaging with regulatory affairs in your jurisdiction helps you to be actively involved when changes like this occur.
Evolving Health Technology Models
The new model of health uses technology to address patient care. Currently, claims teams are investigating how artificial intelligence and applications can help improve care for an injured worker while tracking technicalities involved in a case, ultimately creating a better outcome. With the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen a major increase in telemedicine being used in treatments.
Social inflation refers to the rising costs of insurance claims that are based on society’s views of increased litigation, broader liability definitions and higher jury awards in the plaintiff’s favor. There are significant concerns regarding how the public will view liability throughout the COVID-19 crisis as there are plans to reopen. Limitations on potential litigation could help reduce the impact.
The Power of Influence
Educating claims teams on how their influence affects others provides opportunities to improve outcomes. If we want a claims model that proves to be more transparent and empathetic, it is crucial that we lead by example, which enables trust with an injured worker.
Marijuana Workplace Considerations
As more states push to legalize recreational cannabis use, there is concern with how to keep the workplace safe. Since there is not a standard for how much THC affects a user, testing continues to be a challenge for law enforcement.
Rethinking Industry Engagement
Conferences are currently retooling their structure as social distancing becomes a part of our daily lives. Organizations are also reevaluating their involvement based on budgeting concerns. With this in mind, businesses need to reconsider what learning opportunities they engage in, selecting the most valuable opportunities for their employees.
Safety and Loss Prevention
New technology like wearables help make the workplace safer. In regards to COVID-19, these are helpful for contact tracing and monitoring workforce behavior. Workplace violence continues to be an issue for retail, school districts and healthcare, so using the aid of technology can help protect these employees and prevent turnover.
Informed Pain Management
COVID-19 is causing anxiety for those with chronic pain since they either have trouble accessing their physician or getting to a pharmacy for their meds. Many are tapering off of pain meds or requesting alternatives. Virtual reality and telemedicine can be helpful alternatives, and are more cost-effective in helping treat acute and chronic pain.
Defining the Value of Risk Management for the C-Suite
Risk managers have proven to be more valuable than ever with the COVID-19 crisis. This has proven to be a transformative moment for risk managers, and their increased visibility allows for more influence within an organization.
With the increased use of technology in day-to-day operations, there is an opportunity to retool learning programs. It is arguably more important that employees are provided resources to improve their skills with the move to remote work.
Data Privacy and Cyber Security
The increase in telemedicine has highlighted data privacy concerns in the healthcare system. Remote work has also made companies more vulnerable, and a rise in hacking attempts has made it increasingly difficult for an organization’s internal IT to stay ahead of risks.
1-in-6 Americans is responsible for taking care of a loved one or relative, with roughly 60% of those employees working full-time. Apps like Wellthy are helping to link resources like social workers with caregivers to ease the burden.
Public Sector, Public and Workers’ Compensation Debt
COVID-19 is causing budget strains on public entities. Loss of tax revenues is causing an increase in debt, leaving many to rely on federal assistance. Some will ultimately file for bankruptcy.
Does Our System Do Harm?
After evaluating the eventual outcomes of COVID-19, we need to ask how we can use this experience to better our processes. Are we using proper analytics to drive the best outcomes in claims? Or are we relying on outdated standards and practices?
Markets and Rates
With the first-dollar market, accident frequency is a huge determiner in claims costs. With self-insurance, accident severity drives costs. With a higher chance of survival in catastrophic claims, self insurance costs are rising. Investment income has also heavily impacted rising costs, even before the recent downturn of the market.
Right now more than ever, we need to recognize the effects of COVID-19, and how we help our employees, in addition to injured workers. Employers need to work with HR partners and discuss this topic openly, while addressing employee fears and creating a mental health program in preparation of the workforce’s return.
Now, more than ever, we have access to insightful data, but is it accurate and reliable? Do you trust the data or are you hesitant to believe the data you don’t want to hear? It is crucial to validate data, especially now that government officials are using these models to make decisions.
Leaves and ADA
It is difficult for claims adjusters to understand all the laws surrounding leaves, as they vary by jurisdiction and employer. Claims teams need to work with employers to completely understand their leave programs. Due to COVID-19, there are adjustments being made to federal and employer programs, and paid leaves have expanded, including sick leave and extended disability.
Find more Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark webinars, here.