COVID and Worker’s Comp Protections?

With People Returning to Work employers need to check to see what happens if their employees allege that they got sick with COVID 19 while they were at work.  

Workers are going to assume that, even if they are not insured, if they get COVID at work, that their illness will be covered as a work-related injury.   But, this may not be true.

Certain workers comp carriers have stated that they will not cover employees who become sick because they allege that they were exposed to COVID 19 at work. Even if they said they will cover workers, it remains to be seen what that coverage will look like.  Insurers argue that getting sick with COVID at work is like catching the flu from one of your co-workers.  It is not a work-related injury therefore you are not entitled to workers comp coverage.  

Many states have stepped in. They have now mandated coverage for COVID.

The problem is insurance companies are often putting the burden on employees to prove that they got COVID at work. “You went to the supermarket 12 days before getting sick! How do you know you did not come into contact with someone who had COVID there?”   For insurance companies that are stepping up, benefits for COVID are not necessarily spelled out and may be different than coverage for other work-related injuries.

The government has said that they will cover all costs for those who don’t have coverage; but what does that mean? Is it only coverage for those who are employed by essential services?  Is it only hospitalization costs? What about medical bills and/or lost wages?  if workers are not sick enough to require hospitalization but are sick for an extended period of time, will their disability coverage kick in?  What if you have permanent side effects from the disease or from the treatment?  Many suffer permanent respiratory effects and most who have been on respirators, suffer long term effects.  

For those who get sick and rely on their health plan for coverage, standard deductibles and co-pays are likely to apply.  

Employers, check with your worker’s comp insurer to see what coverage is available. Let your employees know. It might be worth it to continue social distancing. The cost to you may be more than you thought. Employees, check with your employers. This is especially true if you are responsible for taking care of those who might be especially vulnerable to COVID, an elderly parent, or someone who is high risk.Be Safe! Be Careful!

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