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Comp claims increased in third quarter of 2020

workers comp

Active workers compensation claims ticked up in the third quarter of 2020, compared with the second quarter, but remained below 2019 totals, according to data released Tuesday by the National Council on Compensation Insurance.

Using aggregated multistate results, Boca Raton, Florida-based NCCI found that active workers compensation claims increased 10% in the third quarter from the second, but remained 14% below active claim numbers for the third quarter of 2019. This was likely attributable to pandemic-related drops in risk exposure from reduced payrolls, a decline or delay in the reporting of claims, or a decrease in medical treatments, NCCI said.

New claims in the third quarter declined 22% from the same period in 2019, while existing claims decreased 8%, “despite partly revived economic activity,” NCCI said.

About 5% of third-quarter claims included the use of at least one telemedicine service, a big drop from 14% in the second quarter. However, the use of telemedicine in the first three quarters far exceeded usage in 2019, when fewer than 0.5% of claims included its use.

Drug claims with at least one opioid prescription dropped to 34% of claims in the third quarter, from 35% in the second. Cumulative changes in morphine milligram equivalent per opioid claim fell 7% in the third quarter from the second. This could be attributed to health care facility closures during the second quarter or a slowdown in pain management alternatives while injured workers were awaiting “more direct and critical treatment,” NCCI said.

More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here.