Utilization of outpatient and inpatient services in the Illinois workers’ compensation system declined in 2020, the decline attributed to medical facility closings and service restrictions during the start of the pandemic, according to a new study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.
Tuesday’s study said the share of worker claims for major surgery fell mostly in the second quarter of 2020, likely due to restrictions on non-essential procedures due to Covid-19.
Researchers found that compensation benefits per claim increased by 10% in 2020 and then decreased by 3% in 2021, depending on the duration of temporary disability.
Medical payments, on the other hand, declined in 2020 and 2021, primarily due to reduced facility utilization.
The study examined worker injuries between 2016 and 2021 but excluded covid-19 claims.
In addition to medical facility closings and restrictions on non-essential surgeries, the decline in facility utilization was also attributed to workers postponing medical evaluations and procedures due to stay-at-home orders and fears of exposure to COVID-19.
The average cost per compensation claim in Illinois was also 21% higher than in other study states, the authors wrote, and indemnity benefits were the largest contributor to total costs per claim, accounting for 46% of total payments.
Reimbursement benefits per claim in Illinois have increased at a rate of 2% to 3% each year since 2012, according to the study.
The authors said changes in the Illinois economy may explain the trends in replacement benefits during the study period.