Medical payments per claim fell by more than 3% during the 2020 and 2021 pandemic years in half of the states studied by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based research organization studied medical costs for 2020 injuries with costs incurred through March 2021 in 18 states, and found that the declines — after four years of stable or modest growth — “likely reflect factors related to COVID-19 -pandemic.”
“Temporary suspensions of non-emergency treatments and procedures, avoidance of care due to concerns about contracting COVID-19, and increased use of telehealth services contributed to changes in medical payments and utilization,”; said Ramona Tanabe, WCRI vice president and counsel, in a statement.
“In addition, other factors — such as the timing and severity of the pandemic, the speed of resuming non-emergency surgeries and procedures, the degree of reliance on hospital care and state policy — influenced the differences in medical trends between states,” she said.
Of the states WCRI studied, Indiana appeared to see the biggest decline in medical payments: a 14% drop in 2020-21 for non-COVID-19 claims after rising 11% year over year in 2019. Other states saw modest declines in 4% to 5% range.