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Access to medical care had been limited through the pandemic as resources were preserved for the surge of COVID-19 patients, yet the pandemic had no impact on treatment time for injured workers, according to a study released Wednesday by the National Council on Compensation Insurance.
Measuring the time from injury to initial treatment, the Boca Raton, Florida-based ratings agency found that “delays in care associated with the pandemic were limited in both the time frame during which they occurred and in their duration.”
NCCI says the overall impact on claim costs directly associated with postponed medical care, however, remains uncertain. While still preliminary, NCCI says it found “no convincing evidence that access to quality care was adversely impacted.”
The study sourced two NCCI historical data calls on workers compensation claims costs and time to treatment in comp claims, comparing 2020 data with 2019 to measure the potential impact of the pandemic on both categories.
With the suspension of business activity, non-COVID medical claims – and comp claims in particular – tanked. Non-emergency surgeries suspended in April and May of 2020 created a backlog that eventually diminished throughout the summer. NCCI says this may have resulted in a greater use of non-invasive treatments that it says, with comparable outcomes, are often preferred over invasive procedures.
The recent Food and Drug Administration approval of Biogden's Aduhelm, a drug that may slow Alzheimer's conditions, has raised concerns that patient advocacy groups will pressure Medicare and private insurers to cover expensive tests needed to concretely diagnose the disease, Politico reports. Other questions include whether patients will face huge out-of-pocket costs, as well as how successful the drug will be in treating Alzheimer's.