COVID has had little impact
Florida’s workers’ compensation insurance rates are heading for a seventh consecutive year of decrease, despite the lingering COVID pandemic. Meanwhile, insurance companies and hospitals are still in disagreement on the per-diem hospital inpatient reimbursement amount, which could hold up the next edition of some workers’ comp Reimbursement Manuals/Fee Schedules.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), which submits rates on behalf of Florida’s more than 250 workers’ comp writers, filed for an average 8.4% cut in rates for the voluntary market effective January 1, 2023. NCCI said lost-time claims have generally declined over the past eight years and indemnity costs have been relatively consistent, while medical costs have been slightly more volatile.
While the filing doesn’t include COVID-19 claims, its summary said it includes an assessment of possible pandemic related impacts. It notes that nationwide, most COVID-19 claims continue to be small, with incurred losses of less than $1,500 and are most often medical-only or indemnity-only claims. Florida COVID claims currently total just under 74,000 since the pandemic began, with the highest month peaking at 7,150 in August of 2021.
Overall, medical inflation in workers’ comp has been moderate for the past decade. “NCCI’s most recent countrywide data shows that drug costs are declining, physician costs are up slightly, and facility costs are rising in the workers compensation system,” according to the filing summary. OIR is expected to hold a hearing on the rate request next month.
Meanwhile, the ongoing disagreement on per-diem hospital inpatient reimbursement for workers’ comp patients in Florida continues. I attended a recent meeting of the hospitals and insurance carriers. The bottom line is that the hospitals still do not feel that the fee schedules are appropriate to provide the needed level of care for workers, while carriers feel the fee schedules are excessive. The state Division of Workers’ Compensation has attempted for several years to reach agreement on this issue and we applaud them for their tireless efforts.
LMA Newsletter of 9-6-22