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Being older than 60 at the time of COVID-19 infection was the “strongest risk factor” associated with prolonged impairment and high costs of related workers compensation claims, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine this month.
The study was conducted on 13,153 COVID-19 workers comp claims in 11 states between Jan. 1, 2020, and Nov. 30, 2021, and examined the attributes associated with long-duration COVID-19 claims. It is the second in a series of studies conducted by workers comp insurer AF Group in Lansing, Michigan, and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, the first of which found that most claims came from health care workers.
According to the new data, 95% of accepted workers comp claims were closed within the study period and 5% of claims had 30 days or longer of lost time, accounting for 65% of total paid costs. The study also found that medical costs increased 8-fold once paid days lost crossed the threshold of 60 days or greater.
Age at the time of infection was the “major factor” with regard to higher costs, with claims among older workers accounting for 53.1% of costs, the study found.
The study also revealed that 32% of comp claims with 60 days or more of lost time were not closed at the end of the study, “indicating that cost of the claims in this category will continue to increase and account for substantially more than the observed 53.1% aggregate costs.”