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Drop in non-COVID-19 comp claims in Calif. offset by virus claims

A decline in non-COVID-19-related workers compensation in California last year was offset by claims stemming from the disease, according to data presented Thursday.

Overall, the state saw a 26.4% drop in non-COVID-19 claims when comparing data from March 2019 to January 2020 and March 2020 to January 2021. Meanwhile, between January 2020 and January 2021 the state saw 130,033 COVID-19 claims — a number that is expected to jump to 143,208 when more data is collected, Oakland, California-based President Alex Swedlow told online attendees at the California Workers’ Compensation Institute conference.

“The presence of the COVID claims really wiped out much of that difference” between the drop in overall non-COVID-19 claims and the rise in disease claims, he said. In 2020, 19% of claims filed in the state were for COVID-19, according to the data.

The data also showed that the increases in claims coincided with community outbreaks — in December, for example, when positive cases were at the highest point in the pandemic, roughly 50% of claims were for COVID-19, he said.

Of the COVID-19 claims, 7.7% included hospital stays, with costs averaging $70,317 for an average 13-day stay. The state’s most expensive claim thus far was for a 113-day hospital stay, which cost $751,002, according to the data.

Of those inpatient cases, 41.5% were for respiratory infections and inflammation, 21.7% were for severe sepsis, and 11.3% were for respiratory support. Rena David, CWCI’s senior vice president for research, noted that “until last year, these diagnoses were rarely seen in workers comp.”

This article was first published on Business Insurance

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