Just as COVID-19 infections across the country appear to be declining, employers and workers compensation insurers must be prepared for a sobering reality: Studies show that 10% to 30% of those who experienced only mild cases early on will suffer for a while. Long-term complications of weeks or months.
That’s according to a report by Dr. Michael Chu, chief medical officer of Paradigm, a care management organization. His report was recently published by the National Compensation Insurance Board.
The long-term effects of COVID vary widely but can be difficult to distinguish from other conditions that are pre-existing or not caused by a work-related illness or injury.
“It is essential that clinicians provide a comprehensive and comprehensive assessment of the patient’s past and present health-related factors to ensure that other potential causes or contributors to persistent symptoms after acute COVID-19 illness are identified,” Chu wrote.
The prolonged COVID, as it is sometimes called, can significantly affect the performance of workers. The report noted that it can lead to severe fatigue and shortness of breath and can affect cognitive function, creating what’s called “brain fog.”
“It is possible that millions of people will develop functional impairment for an extended period of time after contracting severe COVID-19 disease,” Chu explained. “This is a matter of concern and concern.”
The National Institutes of Health has called the long-term symptoms of coronavirus “PASC” for severe sequelae of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus. The reality is that prolonging temporary care can significantly delay victims’ ability to return to work at their previous level of employment and could impair their quality of life, the report said.
Not much data is available on the number of companies’ claims of prolonged COVID, but the NCCI said it will address that in another report due out next year.
Florida is one of the few states that release information about businesses’ COVID-related claims. The Department of Workers’ Compensation monthly reports don’t show the number of claims associated with long-term symptoms, but the total number of COVID claims continues to fluctuate.
Florida’s claims peaked in July 2020 with 8,403, with COVID cases rising statewide. Business claims peaked again in August of this year, with 6,706, a recent DWC report showed.
As of September 2021, Florida workers have filed more than 57,888 COVID claims. Insurers and self-insurers paid about $136 million on COVID claims, or about $2,357 per claim. The Division reported that COVID workers compensation claims make up approximately 6.6% of all compensation claims.
The NCCI is not the first organization to warn of the potential for the coronavirus to cause long-term health effects. In a July article for Scientific American, Dr. Claire Pomeroy, infectious disease expert and chair of the Lasker Foundation, wrote that the nation must prepare for a prolonged “disability tsunami” caused by COVID.
Also in July, the Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance informing employers that people with long-term COVID-19 are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means employers may have to provide reasonable accommodations to allow them to continue working.
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