How Long Covid Is Impacting Staffing & Workers Compensation
How “Long” COVID is Crushing The Staffing Industry & Workers Compensation
By now, many Americans – more than half, according to CDC data – have had Covid-19. And while most people start to see improvement within a few days or weeks of getting sick, a significant number end up battling what is commonly referred to as “long Covid.”
Contrary to what the name suggests, long Covid isn’t a single condition. Instead, the CDC defines it as a “wide range of new, returning or ongoing health problems that people experience after first being infected with the virus that causes Covid-19.” These problems include everything from fatigue to migraines to cardiovascular abnormalities and estimates indicate that anywhere between 10-33 million working-age adults are dealing with this ongoing health issue.
Another area of uncertainty surrounding long Covid is how long people with the condition will remain ill, though one study showed that nearly 30 percent of long Covid patients reported having symptoms for more than a year.
All these question marks are eerily reminiscent of the early days of Covid-19 when no one had a clear understanding of the virus or how it would affect our lives. Therefore, it’s not surprising that long Covid has been dubbed the “pandemic after the pandemic.”
Although we still have much to learn about this condition, one thing is becoming clear: long Covid is having an impact on employers as it relates to both staffing levels and workers’ compensation costs. In fact, a recent report by the National Council on Compensation Insurance found that the costs for non-hospitalized long Covid patients can be almost as high as hospitalized patients with traditional Covid, with the average long Covid workers’ compensation claim hovering at around $216,000. Not exactly pocket change!
“I think it’s safe to say that in some respects, we’re still in uncharted waters when it comes to Covid,” said Patrick Moraites, a partner and vice president at Tampa-based Axis Group. “It may be years before we’re able to know the full story on Covid’s effects on the workplace.”
In terms of staffing levels, research published in The Lancet showed that between 22 and 27 percent of people who had worked prior to becoming ill are now out of work due to long Covid. Another report suggests that long Covid is responsible for as many as 15 percent of unfilled jobs.
NCCI’s numbers on the workers’ comp side of things don’t look a lot better:
● Twenty percent of non-hospitalized and 47 percent of hospitalized Covid workers’ comp patients developed long Covid
● The percentage of Covid claims with long Covid in workers’ comp was 24 percent
● The average temporary disability indemnity benefit duration for people with long Covid was roughly 160 days for hospitalized patients and 95 days for those who were not hospitalized
As employers brace for the potential financial fallout from long Covid, many of them are likely looking for ways to keep their workers’ comp costs and other expenses at bay. Fortunately, there is help out there thanks to Professional Employer Organizations.
PEOs are a single-source provider of integrated services that allows business owners to outsource many of their administrative, HR, payroll and other employment-related tasks. However, what makes PEOs such a valuable resource for small to mid-sized companies – especially for newer ones in high-risk industries such as construction – is that they can help secure workers’ comp coverage. Because PEOs have the ability to leverage economies of scale, they can offer insurance from top-rated carriers at affordable rates. Additionally, they can help companies create safety protocols, training workshops and other procedures to reduce on-the-job injuries that can cause premiums to spike, which is something few companies can afford these days.
“We’re already seeing reports that indicate long Covid-related claims are rising for workers’ comp and group health insurance,” Moraites said. “As a result, costs for both insurers and employees are likely to increase as well. If you’ve ever thought about hiring a PEO, this might be the perfect time to do it.”
Curious about what a PEO can do for your bottom line? The team at Axis is here to help walk you through all your options. Contact us today to set up your no-obligation consultation.