Memphis, TN – Sedgwick recently released a new position paper from Chief Claims Officer Max Koonce that covers changes that are affecting the workers’ comp system in multiple areas, including workforce changes, healthcare and legislative/regulatory reform.
Koonce notes events and activities of the last few years have caused society to pause and consider many things from a cultural and political standpoint. Although workers’ compensation is generally not one of the headline considerations, the question remains as to what we can and should learn from past events and how it can influence the construct or functioning of workers’ compensation in the future.
In the paper Max examines the following areas, and the workers’ comp ramifications for each change:
For the last several years, there has been significant discussion on the impact of having five distinct generations (traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z) within the workforce. Additionally, the largest percentage group of the workforce, the baby boomers, is the one that is retiring most rapidly.
The healthcare industry endured a tumultuous period during the pandemic. Dan Lambert, in his Forbes article “How the Pandemic has Upset Healthcare and Five Ways to Fix It” (Sept. 14, 2020), noted four problems exposed by the pandemic. COVID-19:
- Put hospitals and healthcare systems in an economic crisis.
- Caused patients to delay procedures, which can lead to more fatalities.
- Caused delays in pathology labs, which increased risks.
- Is the only health concern receiving attention from the media and government resources.
The pandemic, additionally, did not enthrall society with confidence and/or support for health-related institutions. Yet throughout the pandemic, we saw a heightened focus and engagement by individuals in their overall health.
The pandemic brought on heightened legislative and regulatory activity at the state and federal level. During 2020 and 2021,
18 states established COVID-19 presumptions for workers’ compensation via legislation, directives, emergency rules and/or executive orders. Two additional states —Tennessee and Washington— established a more general “infectious disease presumption.”
At the time of publication, only seven states have presumptions still in effect, although this was still a topic of conversation within many states through proposed legislation even in 2022 (NCCI COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Presumption Update, June 20, 2022).
The presumption legislation and executive orders covered a myriad of situations: employees that were deemed in essential occupations; healthcare employees and first responders only; all employees working outside the home; and defining qualifications for when the law was applicable based on a definition of “outbreak.” Yet, each of the presumption states focused on expanding workers’ compensation coverage beyond what was traditionally covered as an occupational disease.
Read the free paper here: Sedgwick: A view of workers’ compensation: past, present and future (PDF)
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