As states like Missouri scramble to adapt their workers’ compensation schemes to the coronavirus spread, some of the weaknesses at the heart of the system are becoming more and more apparent. Chief among them is the power of insurance companies to simply raise their rates, indirectly shifting the costs of current coverage to tomorrow’s workers.
States Struggle to Adapt Workers’ Compensation to a Pandemic
As the coronavirus makes it dangerous to gather in large groups, workplaces have either shut down or have struggled to cope with the reality that their workers could contract COVID-19 on the job.
The most prominent example is the healthcare industry. Hospital workers like doctors and nurses get exposed to the coronavirus every day, with a notorious lack of personal protective equipment. They are beginning to make up an oversized chunk of the people who have been infected.
Other essential workers, including delivery workers and grocery store staff, are also likely to get infected on the job because of their heightened risk of exposure.
The dangers have led some states to change their workers’ compensation laws to make sure at-risk workers are covered if they get sick because of their job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has even made coronavirus a workplace injury that employers have to report to the agency.
Now Employers are Concerned About Spiking Insurance Premiums
But the workers’ compensation system is based on insurance policies.
Employers buy workers’ compensation insurance. This works just like car insurance: The employer pays a regular fee – the premium – and the insurance company pays for the costs of workplace injuries that are covered by their policies.
The amount of that premium paid by the employer, though, depends on the inherent danger of their workplace. Employers who have workers in office settings are going to have lower workers’ compensation insurance premiums than, say, a skydiving company.
When a new injury, like the coronavirus, appears in the workplace, workers’ compensation insurance companies have to readjust their premium schedules to make sure they are still making a profit off the employers who buy their coverage.
This means there are serious long-term repercussions to a pandemic: When insurance companies use the disease as a reason to increase their premiums, employers will get squeezed. When they get squeezed, they will pass that cost on to workers and consumers to protect their own bottom line.
In the end, this means the workers’ compensation coverage that we have, now, is being paid by workers, in the future.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
If you have gotten infected with the coronavirus in St. Joseph and you think that you got it at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation coverage. The personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office can help you get what you deserve. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.