“The mandates vary by state, but they include coverage for testing and visits to emergency rooms or urgent care facilities either in-network or out-of-network without deductibles or copays. These measures, if expanded to more states, could have the impact of limiting claim activity in the WC market in those cases where only testing or quarantine are necessary,” NCCI notes.
Observers note employees other than healthcare workers and first responders are likely to have a difficult time claiming workers’ compensation benefits because they would have to prove their jobs put them at greater risk of being infected. “But where there is an outbreak of the virus at a plant or facility, there may be some argument to support coverage for certain workers,” says Bob Robenalt, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Columbus, Ohio.
For instance, he noted to SHRM, the receptionist and cleaning staff at a healthcare facility where the virus has become rampant may argue they were at a greater risk of contracting the virus. But the more widespread COVID-19 becomes, the more difficult it may be for an employee to show the disease is work-related rather than an ordinary disease of life.
States differ considerably on their rules for compensability. John Burton, a well-known workers’ compensation expert, told SHRM, a few states apply the test of whether a disease arises out of and in the course of employment, but many states instead have a list of compensable diseases.
“Surely coronavirus is not going to be on the list,” he said.