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National Work Comp – general impressions

Yes, attendance was way down.

Yes, the exhibit hall was pretty quiet.

Yes, it was really good to see old friends and colleagues, to re-connect and just smile at each other live, in person, and not in 2D.

Yes, it was a bit hard to connect names to faces when those faces haven’t been seen live in a too long and were mostly covered by masks…and

Yes, dealing with reading glasses, hearing aids (yep, that’s me) and masks can be pretty challenging.

What’s new.

Mental Health/behavioral health were big topics – and that is excellent/terrific/welcome indeed. Carisk announced a partnership with Tower MSA and Ametros to help resolve and settle claims; behavioral health issues are often the primary reason claimants are reluctant to settle. (Carisk is an HSA consulting client)

AI. Lots of AI. Tons of AI. Fraud detection AI. Claim processing AI. Voice Response AI. Chatbot AI. My bet is we’ll be seeing even more of it, as the biggest challenge most payers have these days is staff.

Catching up with colleagues in the payer world, every one noted adjusting talent is:

  • getting older,
  • getting crankier (well, this is a bit unfair, but adjuster dissatisfaction was definitely a topic),
  • leaving for better pay,
  • leaving for better conditions (be careful, the grass may well be greener because there is more fertilizer on it…)
  • and really hard to find.

So, here comes AI to hopefully increase job satisfaction and reduce the number of low-value clerical-type tasks so adjusters can actually, you know, manage claims.

And, adding behavioral health expertise to the claims management process will help reduce claim inventory, further reducing adjusters’ work load.

Enlyte is the new name for the Mitchell/Genex/Coventry business...personally I’m not a fan – I would have preferred Magic as that’s way cooler and kind of ties back to the MGC thing.  Also not a fan of the consolidation of all customer facing stuff into a central entity. In a past life I sold group insurance for Liberty Mutual; While I was really good at selling group health and disability, I was way less than any good at selling retirement plans  – which I had to do if iIwas going to get the commission multiplier.

No one else was any good at it either, so much so that Liberty dropped the requirement that we sell retirement plans.

Nina Smith has the unenviable task of trying to get Mitchell bill review people to sell Genex stuff, Coventry’s network experts to sell Genex stuff… you get the picture. Ok, you say, Mitchell has been “selling” networks for a long time, Coventry used to sell bill review, Genex has been doing both. While this seems pretty straightforward, it is not. I can assure you it will take a lot of time, a lot of handholding, and a lot of patience.

Masks were required, but I saw too many people, including some I know well who didn’t wear them. That is disrespectful at best and just not smart. The reason:

  • attendance was way down,
  • many companies didn’t attend, and
  • this country hasn’t gotten back to “normal”,
  • which means claims counts are still low
  • and premiums are too

is because too many people have listened to claptrap and nonsense (I know, I really want to swear…) and for whatever dumb and completely unfounded reason won’t wear a mask to protect the rest of us – and themselves.

I feel for the event planners and folks behind this; while I don’t have official attendance numbers, this place is nowhere near as busy as it has been at past events. No taxi line, no problem getting a table for breakfast, fewer folks walking around in business casual.

Putting on a conference is a shipload of work, especially these days. While I lament the very real issue of pay-to-play, the conference owners need to make a buck, something they haven’t for far too long.

What does this mean for you?

Until and unless we all get vaccinated and wear masks we will not put COVID in the rear view mirror.

I thanked Denise Algire and Michelle Kerr for all the work that went into this – and you should too.



9 thoughts on “National Work Comp – general impressions”

    1. Michael
      Thanks for the note and understand your reluctance. Hopefully others will be compliant and we will get thru this.
      Be well Joe

  1. We finally met yesterday although it was a in passing. I was not wearing a mask. Remember, it’s not the responsibilty of the unvaccinated to protect the vaccinated. That’s the vaccine’s job!

    1. Well Ricky looks like you don’t understand the concept of disease prevention. Avoiding exposure is central to preventing disease.
      By your logic drunk drivers should be entitled to drive drunk; the onus would be on pedestrians and other drivers to avoid them.
      Wear a mask.
      Be well Joe

    2. Ricky,
      Is it that difficult to remember that this world is composed of more groups than simply the “vaccinated” and the “unvaccinated”? What about the children? What about the people who can’t be vaccinated due to underlying medical conditions? What about the fact that no vaccines are perfect and that viruses change/mutate all the time? What about being concerned and cautious simply for the sake of your fellow citizens?…

      1. Eric – I hereby designate you the respondent to all of Ricky’s statements.

        Well said sir.

        Be well Joe

  2. Joe, thanks for the update. When you say attendance is way down, are we talking about 50% less? I am one of those who stayed away because I am still not comfortable though I miss the networking. Seems like a lot of conferences organizers and attendees have had enough with virtual events and are going back to in person events, especially in 2022. Do you think this is safe and that we are finally putting Covid-19 in the rear view mirror? I heard on the tv today that a new strain of the Delta variant in the UK is causing concern. :(

    1. Hey Frank..
      thanks for reaching out. Couple of things here.
      First, I’m not sure conferences are going to be the same going forward as they were already on the downslope. There are too many WC conferences, pay to play keeps topics generic and “safe”, and travel budgets are tightening.
      Second, unless and until we significantly increase the percentage that is vaccinated, conferences will be challenged. Given the resistance remains strong among some populations, I don’t see this happening soon unless mandates are enforced.
      be well Joe

  3. Hi Joe,

    Thank you for the summary. For folks who might not understand universal masking they need to understand its about source control, not PPE. If people want your mask to be PPE they need to be wearing a higher grade mask. Its universal precautions because we don’t know who might have the disease, this protects everyone and the way it works is if everyone is wearing a mask, i.e., universal precautions.

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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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