What Does The Increase In COVID-19 Cases Ultimately Mean For Workers Comp And Healthcare?

F.J. Thomas

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – The national news is fraught with reports that the numbers of COVID-19 cases are on the rise again. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported an average of 52,156 daily cases for an increase in 21 percent from the previous two weeks.

According to the statistics ending October 11th from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker, the top 5 states with the largest number of cases in the previous 7 days are Texas, California, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Florida. Texas reported 26,980 cases in the 7-day time period, averaging out to 3,854 COVID-19 cases per day. There were 23,945 cases reported in California, averaging out to 3,421 cases per day. Illinois had 20,031 cases, averaging out to 2,862 cases per day reported. Wisconsin reported 20,029 in the 7-day period, averaging out to 2,861 cases per day. Florida reported 18,233 cases in the week ending October 11th, which averaged out to 2,605 cases reported statewide per day. When ranked by highest case rate per 100,000 overall, the top 5 states are North Dakota, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama.

The top 5 states with the highest number of deaths in the last 7 days are Florida, Texas, California, Georgia, and Missouri. Florida had 764 deaths in the last week, averaging out to 109 deaths per day. Texas had 511 deaths in the 7-day time period, averaging out to 73 per day. California had 404 deaths during the same period, averaging at 58 deaths per day. Georgia had 225 deaths, and Missouri had 222 deaths, both averaging right at 32 deaths per day. When ranked by highest death rate per 100,000 overall, the top 5 states are New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Louisiana.

The State of Tennessee, which has been touted as one of the nation’s quickest growing “hot spots” by the New York Times, ranked 6th by number of cases in 7 days, and 7th by number of deaths according to the CDC Tracker report. Tennessee reported 13,454 cases in the 7-day time period, averaging out to 1,922 cases per day. The state reported 176 deaths, averaging out to 25 deaths per day.

Considering the high numbers of COVID-19 cases, Kaiser Family Foundation had estimated COVID-costs at $13.9 billion to $41.8 billion. However, according to a follow up Kaiser report gleaned from Department of Health and Human Services data, total payouts to providers was only $881 million paid out to a mere 8,000 total providers across the country as of September 30th. Kaiser speculates that many smaller providers may not be aware of the Federal programs designed to cover the costs of the pandemic, and goes on to say that payment is additionally contingent upon federal funds being available.

Several of the top states listed in the CDC report, such as TennesseeGeorgia, Texas, and Florida, have experienced a rash of hospital closures due to lack of funding and mismanagement. Paired with the fact that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has proposed rate cuts across the board next year, and inpatient and outpatient expenses account the highest percentage of healthcare costs, one has to speculate what impact this will ultimately have on healthcare systems. Additionally, due to the fact that hospitals especially are looking to Workers Compensation to carry the burden of already lost revenue, the question is posed whether the workers compensation industry will be expected to carry even more of that weight. Given the employment environment with the loss of jobs and closures of some organizations, this could potentially be the perfect storm for workers compensation and healthcare as we know it as the candle seems to be burning at both ends.

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