Cambridge, MA, October 20, 2022 ― A new report from the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) found that indemnity benefits per claim grew 10 percent for 2020 non-COVID-19 claims evaluated in 2021 (2020/2021 claims) after being mostly stable since 2015 in New York. Medical payments per claim decreased 5 percent in 2020/2021, following a rapid increase the previous year. Both the increase in indemnity benefits and decrease in medical payments per claim in 2020/2021 likely reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on non-COVID-19 claims.
“For claims at 12 months of experience, the average number of weeks of temporary disability increased 9 percent (about one week) in 2020/2021, which may reflect economic conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ramona Tanabe, WCRI’s counsel and executive vice president. “We observed similar results in several states in our CompScope™ Benchmarks study, and, in the case of New York, this growth was an important factor contributing to the growth in indemnity benefits per claim in 2020/2021.”
According to the study, Monitoring Trends in the New York Workers’ Compensation System, 2022 Edition, the growth in indemnity benefits per claim in 2020/2021 was partially offset by a decrease in medical payments per claim, which also likely reflects factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the temporary suspension of non-emergency surgeries and the avoidance of certain types of medical care during the early part of the pandemic. Additionally, key metrics of prescription drug prices and utilization continued to decrease in 2020/2021, including the average prescription payment per claim and the percentage of claims with prescriptions. These decreases in key prescription measures likely reflect several factors, including efforts to address unnecessary opioid use, and, more recently, the drug formulary, which became effective for new prescriptions in December 2019.
The analysis in this edition focuses primarily on trends in indemnity benefits, medical payments, and benefit delivery expenses from 2015 to 2020. Claims with experience through 2021 are analyzed, and in some cases, trends before 2007 are shown to establish a baseline prior to the reforms in that year. The study provides a look at how the pandemic impacted non-COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims in the early months of the pandemic. Other studies are also included to help put the performance of the New York system into perspective, such as prices paid for medical services and the frequency and amount of opioids dispensed to workers.
To learn more about this study or to purchase a copy, visit WCRI’s website at https://www.wcrinet.org/reports/monitoring-trends-in-the-new-york-workers-compensation-system-2022-edition. William Monnin-Browder and Carol A. Telles are the authors of the study.
The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is an independent, not-for-profit research organization based in Cambridge, MA. Organized in late 1983, the Institute does not take positions on the issues it researches; rather, it provides information obtained through studies and data collection efforts, which conform to recognized scientific methods. Objectivity is further ensured through rigorous, unbiased peer review procedures. WCRI's diverse membership includes employers; insurers; governmental entities; managed care companies; health care providers; insurance regulators; state labor organizations; and state administrative agencies in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.