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COVID claims aren’t expensive, and treatment isn’t being delayed

Those are my two top takeaways from CWCI’s excellent analysis of 2020. I had the opportunity to tune into the virtual annual meeting, and Alex Swedlow was kind enough to walk me through questions on several key issues. (note that the data is preliminary)

The net:

  • Non-COVID claims were down by more than 25% in 2020;
  • WC Covid claims are pretty inexpensive;
  • COVID claim denials were actually less frequent than denials for non-COVID claims (when using an apples:apples comparison)
  • Most COVID claims aren’t incurring any medical cost;
  • Contrary to a previous post, there were no appreciable delays in accessing treatment

Let’s start with the last point. The data on all claims incurred in California May to October showed initial treatment delays were non-existent.

When looking at days to first Evaluation, pandemic-era claims actually had less delays than non-pandemic-era claims.

Overall, COVID hasn’t been expensive for workers’ comp payers. COVID claims that had medical expense were more expensive than non-COVID claims – BUT most had NO medical expense incurred. (Mark Priven and I predicted this 9 months ago...while others thought the opposite would happen.)

What does this mean for you?

Be careful making assumptions. 

I’m going to get more into the cost-of-COVID next week.

Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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