The pandemic reinforced workplace safety and the vital role it plays in the economy. The US workers' compensation system can learn a few lessons after enduring COVID-19.
Three areas of the workers' compensation system needs attention in the future: strength and resilience, flexibility and responsiveness, and staying alert to future risks.
The pandemic directly affected frontline healthcare workers. Nearly 75 percent of reported COVID-19 workers' compensation claims involved workers at nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare settings according to the NCCI.
First, while workers' compensation losses in accident were up in 2020, two figures show the strength and resilience of our system. While premiums declined 10 percent, the calendar year combined ratio for private carriers was 87 percent, and the reserve redundancy grew to $14 billion.
Next, healthcare providers demonstrated how rapidly they could adjust to the challenges of the pandemic with the quick adoption of telemedicine. To make telemedicine more accessible was no easy task. It required both policymakers and regulators to act quickly, leading to a long-term role for telemedicine in our healthcare system.
Finally, our system now needs to stay alert and ready to adjust to future risks. As the pandemic recedes in the US, it is vital to be aware of risks including: variant strains, impact of vaccines, and economic recovery rates.
Overall, the workers' compensation system has responded well in the face of a crisis. Insurers, policymakers, regulators, employers and more have worked together to develop creative ways to make the workplace safer, offer treatment, and pay claims.