COVID-19’s Impact on Medical Treatment in Workers Compensation—A First Look at 2020

INTRODUCTION

There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have a measurable impact on medical treatment of injured workers in the workers compensation (WC) system. The question is … to what extent? The simple answer is a single metric, and that is time. It may be years before we grasp the full effect of this pandemic on WC. However, we can assess the effect of COVID-19 on WC by monitoring the data as it comes through and having it tell the story as it develops.

NCCI is undertaking several activities to better understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the WC system. One action is monitoring several medical data-related metrics, which were developed to provide insight into the effect of COVID-19 on several aspects of the medical system as it relates to WC. These metrics track quarterly results over time, allowing us to compare the data before the onset of the pandemic and workers compensation medical experience thereafter. In this article we share some of the aggregated-multi-state results for these metrics including data from the first (1Q20) and second quarter of 2020 (2Q20). As data emerges, future updates to these metrics will be available on ncci.com. A medical data dashboard will include state-specific results, allowing the user to compare a state’s experience to a multi-state benchmark.

KEY OBSERVATIONS

  • Hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) treatment are key cost indicators of COVID-19 claims
  • Overall active claim volume decreased during 2Q20
  • Increased use of telemedicine in 2Q20, to varying degrees across states
  • Evaluation and management and physical medicine show a decrease in the utilization of in-person services in 2Q20
  • The share of claims with surgery has remained steady, but the decreased intensity of surgery procedures seems to reflect a change in injuries or surgery mix
  • Drug share of medical costs took an upward turn, in part driven by increased utilization of opioids
​This article is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for informational purposes only. The information in this article shall not be construed or interpreted as providing legal or any other advice. Use of this article for any purpose other than as set forth herein is strictly prohibited.
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