The Great Resignation was caused by the move of baby boomers out of the workforce, which was already shifting demographic. The war in Ukraine has compounded rising inflation, adding to a mix of factors that led to a cost spike.
There are strategies for turning things right side up during times of topsy-turvy times in this article.
Why Is Everyone So Stressed?
For many workers, remote and hybrid work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Employees working under either arrangement have experienced increased anxiety and depression due to isolation, lack of employer communication and support, inconsistent expectations, lack of structure and routine, and fewer boundaries between work and home. Many employees reported working more hours than when they were in the office.
Since 2021, we have seen an increase in employees adding body parts to existing accepted orthopedic injuries, as well as filing multiple claims with different dates of injury and/or mental stress, either as a compensable consequence of an accepted orthopedic injury or as a stand alone claim. Whether employees worked from home, had a hybrid schedule, or reported to a designated workplace, statistics show that mental health claims increased substantially following the lockdowns, and we do not see this changing in the foreseeable future
The majority of stress claims were filed by healthcare workers, according to a study by Work CompCentral. Many states cover mental health claims even if work is only one cause of stress.
There was a big increase in compensable consequence and secondary stress injuries filed with physical injury claims in 2020. Whole body claims, including no physical injury/stress claims, were up 20.3% in 2020, from 105,827 to 130,587.
There is a lack of data due to the exclusion of mental WC claims in other states. Several states have begun to consider mental claims for essential workers. The recognition of the importance of mental health may lead to the acceptance of mental claims across the board.
Employees are filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in conjunction with a claim. Stress and other claims have increased as a result of this. Wage and hour and wrongful dismissal allegations are included.
The focus on mental health is here to stay after the Pandemic. Stress claims can be mitigated with the help of your employees’ mental health. The steps to follow are listed.
- Regularly remind your staff of your concern for their well-being and tell them about the resources you offer as part of your employee benefits package.
- Find ways to check in and engage with employees. This communication will build trust and connection and reduce work stress.
- Strive for better coordination and collaboration across all practice areas, including WC, employee benefits, EPL (Employment Practices Liability), and include labor counsel when appropriate.
- Consider using a single broker for your insurance and employee benefits needs for better collaboration and coordination of benefits.
Employers should have an ergonomics awareness program in place since some employees switch to a permanent work-from- home routine. This includes education in ergonomics, encouraging employees to take breaks and set work- home boundaries, and checking in often with remote workers to see how they are doing
The Great Resignation: How Employee Turnover and Staff Shortages Are Affecting Claims Handling
Many employees left their jobs to pursue a completely different career path or were forced to return to the office to work from home because of stress and burnout. Many employees work from home to save time and money. The insurance industry is subject to change.
The ability to work from home full time, better benefits packages, and more pay are just some of the reasons why Adjusters are jumping from one insurance carrier to another. It is too early to know the long-term effects of these changes. Staffing shortages in the insurance industry have caused delays due to the time it takes to reassign and train new agents. It is1-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-6556
Gen Z workers prioritize mental health and work-life balance over salary according to surveys. A recent California bill proposes that employers pay workers overtime if they work more than 32 hours per week. The bill is on hold for now.
With insurance carriers notoriously running lean and claims work already fraught with acrimonious disputes and too-high caseloads, carriers will need to pivot to accommodate worker demands. Administrative claim costs might trickle down to premiums after meeting these conditions.
To prevent gaps in claim activity, we recommend engaging your broker, who can coordinate claim reviews and provide essential claim oversight and advocacy. When possible, designate defense counsel to follow through on the action plans.
How Delays in Treatment Affect Reserves and Claim Closures
Treatment delays are shortening the time that claims are open. Doctors delayed treating injured employees because of COVID patients. Due to fears of the spread of COVID, occupational clinics reduced their in-person office hours, and injured employees often chose telehealth appointments instead of in-person tests. Doctors who treat injured employees keep them off work longer because they are giving the injured employee the benefit of the doubt and often relying on their subjective complaints to address release to return to work. Without a physical examination and objective findings, physicians are more inclined to keep an injured employee off work than risk reinjury by releasing them too early.
Qualified Medical Evaluators, Agreed Medical Evaluators, and other medical-legal specialists refused to perform in-person evaluations to stop the spread of COVID. Virtual appointments were not possible in the medical-legal space.
Nurse case managers can help with in-person evaluations and better coordination with the treating physician. The injured employee should have his usual and customary job description. This will give the treating physician a basis for any work restrictions, as it will lend more context to the employee’s daily work activities. If you want to speed up the return-to-work process, you can update the job description for the modified duty.
Inflation and the Impact on Claim Costs
The temporary disability rate went up from $1,356.31 to $1,539.71 per week on January 1, 2022. The highest proportion of job losses were among low-income workers. The SAWW for remaining workers was raised from $1,383 to $1,570 in 2021. The basis for calculating benefit rates is based on the SAWW. Huge increases were also seen in other states.
Disability costs have increased due to wage inflation.
According to the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California, the average medical costs decreased in the year 2019. The decreases were partly attributed to a reduction in the use of medical services, especially high priced surgeries, which were deferred due to the fears of COVID.
There will be modest increases in medical care costs in the years 2021, and 2022. The war in Ukraine may not have taken into account other unknown variables.
The war in Ukraine has caused supply chain disruptions that have delayed the transport and increased the price of medical products. In addition to higher gas prices affecting the cost of transporting medical goods, economic experts say that other factors driven by the war will further inflate costs.
China’s dependence on Russia for oil and nickel and the US dependence on China as one of its leading suppliers of medical equipment have created a rippling effect. Medical supplies made from oil and nickel are the most impacted. Diagnostic and diagnostic equipment, surgical supplies, disposable syringes, and surgical hardware are included.
At least in California, the med-legal fee schedule increase will increase medical expenses. Settlement costs and medical-legal costs are increasing.
Are There Any Positive Trends to Report?
The combination of modern technologies and Pandemic-related shutdowns increased the availability of telehealth solutions, which mitigated medical costs and treatment delays. Telehealth is here to stay, experts believe. The Center for Medicare Services (CMS) revised their telehealth list effective January 2022, as part of the Division of Workers’ Compensation’s modernizing of its Official Medical Legal Fee Schedule. Telehealth might be a good option when traditional medical treatment is delayed and for patient information gathering, prescription refills, referrals for diagnostic testing, physical therapy, and specialist visits.
Telehealth is three times cheaper than in-person visits. According to different data sources, virtual visits cost an average of $50 to $79 and in-person visits start at $176 depending on location.
Two-thirds of virtual health visits among health plan subscribers were for behavioral health issues, according to research from the Integrated Benefits Institute. Maybe virtual health could be used to address mental claims.
Virtual appointments save the injured worker travel time to doctor visits and also cut down on time away from work. The employee gets the reimbursable mileage for in-person visits.
What Are Some Solutions to a Hardening WC Market?
Some of the claims issues are stabilizing. New trends and evolving ones are prompting some experts to believe a hard market is on the way. A year ago, the advisory pure premium rates were proposed to be increased by 8%. You can read our previous article on COVID’s impact on Ex-Mods and WC premiums here.
Additional interventions may help along with the strategies mentioned. These include some things.
Get regular meetings back on the calendar if claim reviews with your insurance carrier and broker have fallen off track. It’s important to hold your team members accountable for taking proactive action to resolve claims. Don’t allow excuses such as the swine flu to become the norm.
Gain a handle on your current injury trends by getting a loss trend report from your broker. Discuss any services needed to control claim frequencies. If there are safety issues or improper ergonomics that cause injuries, it is time to revisit loss control.
If you have had a material change in your operations or financial position, consider strategic due diligence on your insurance program options. Ensuring that the carrier provides adequate management support and recognizes the importance of adjuster wellbeing will go a long way towards good claims administration.
Take steps to ensure the health and well-being of your employees by following the COVID-19 safety protocols. Studies show that the comorbidities that increase costs are the same ones that drive COVID costs.