Workers’ Compensation Trends to Watch

As the pandemic continues to impact many workplaces, experts predict that some of the changes we saw in the workplace may be here to stay. At the top of the list of trends that will likely continue this year is the legislative move to establish a worker’ compensation presumption for COVID-19. More than half of states considered passing legislation to help first-line responders and front-line workers make workers’ compensation claims if they contract the virus. Nine states actually did pass legislation and many more created executive orders that will expire once the pandemic dissipates. However, some experts anticipate that presumptions for an infectious disease may continue indefinitely.

Unsurprisingly, a related trend that experts anticipate will continue to remain at the forefront is a growing discussion of mental and behavioral health as part of a workers’ compensation claim. Last year, five states, including Colorado, passed bills to help clarify when mental health injuries, like PTSD, are covered by the state’s workers’ compensation bills. More than a dozen additional states have similar legislation on the dockets this year.

Lastly, as many workers’ have experienced in the last year, access to care will continue to be an issue that complicates many workers’ compensation claims. Early on in the pandemic, public health orders limited the ability for workers to make in-person appointments. Some states made proactive efforts to ensure telehealth appointments were covered as part of a claim, but many workers were forced to wait out the public health emergency rather than risk a trip to urgent care where they had a high risk of catching the virus. Because swift access to care typically results in lower costs per claim, workers’ compensation providers are working to address access to care issues.

Learn more about the top trends and disruptors to the workers’ compensation system here.