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The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California has released a new report, Medical Treatments and Costs of COVID-19 Claims and An Early Look at Long COVID in the California Workers’ Compensation System.

The primary objective of this study is to provide a better understanding of the medical cost and treatment patterns of COVID-19 claims in the California workers’ compensation system, including a very early look at the potential prevalence and cost impacts of long COVID.

In addition, the authors compared the treatment patterns of COVID-19 claims in the workers’ compensation system to those of COVID-19 patients covered by group health insurance in California to validate some of the findings.

The WCIRB studied a sample of almost 6,000 insured COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims in the study database with an accident date between March 2020 and March 2021 that incurred medical payments. The vast majority (90%) of these claims were for mild illness and did not require hospitalization. Additionally, 4% of these claims were for severe illness that required hospitalization without an ICU stay, 4% required ICU care for critical conditions, and 2% were death claims.

Sequelae after an acute COVID-19 infections (“long COVID”) have been widely reported and have become a growing concern for health care providers and individuals who have had COVID-19. The potential long-term cost impacts of long COVID on healthcare systems and disability insurance programs are also increasingly concerning. For workers who contracted COVID-19, the possibility of having persistent long-term health complications from COVID-19 may mean longer recovery time before returning to work or some level of impairment that affects their ability to perform their pre-illness job tasks.

Other highlights of the report include:

– – The average medical payments on COVID-19 claims increase significantly as infections become more severe, and for those COVID-19 claims with severe and critical infections, the payments for hospital admissions were the main cost driver.
– – For claims with medical payments during the first six months of medical treatment, the average medical payments per COVID-19 claim were almost two times higher than those of non-COVID-19 claims.
– – Cumulatively over a four-month post-acute care period, about 11 percent of workers with mild infections received medical treatments for long COVID symptoms in the workers’ compensation system, while the share was higher for workers with severe or critical infections.

The WCIRB will host a free webinar to discuss the Medical Treatments and Costs of COVID-19 Claims and An Early Look at Long COVID in the California Workers’ Compensation System report. on Thursday, March 10, 2022, from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM PT. Learn the patterns of medical treatment and cost of COVID-19 claims, how they are different from typical workers’ compensation claims and what are the key cost drivers. WCIRB presenters will also share an early analysis of long COVID, including prevalence and potential cost impacts on the California workers’ compensation system.

Registration is required. A recording will also be posted in the Research section of the WCIRB website following the event.