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Workers’ comp study looks at long COVID claims

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Cambridge, MA — Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, 7% of people who submitted workers’ compensation claims for the disease developed long COVID, according to a recent study.

Experts from the Workers Compensation Research Institute analyzed data on COVID-19 cases diagnosed March 2020 through September 2020 – before the emergence of delta, omicron and other variants of the virus. That analysis included payments for medical care or indemnity benefits through March 31, 2021.

Findings show that two-thirds of the claimants received indemnity benefits but no medical care because their infection involved minor symptoms. About 3% of all claimants needed hospitalization or to stay in the intensive care unit, and 4% required medical care three months or more after an initial infection.

Respiratory issues were most often linked to long COVID claims, and nearly a third of the workers with long COVID had heart-related problems. In addition, medical costs for workers with long COVID were about eight times higher than average.

In a press release, WCRI President and CEO John Ruser notes that although most patients who develop COVID-19 recover quickly, “some patients do not return to their usual state of health and experience a wide variety of recurring or new symptoms and complications months after the initial infection period.” The likelihood of developing long COVID increased depending on the age of the worker: Around 2% to 4% of those younger than 35 developed the condition, compared with 10% to 12% of workers older than 55.

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