Investments in behavioral health claim management practices will provide stability in 2021.
Written by Mark Sawyer, CLU, VP of Claim Performance Solutions
2020 saw an increase in the prevalence of COVID-19 related behavioral health issues that impacted disability claims in a variety of ways. Isolation, fear, and uncertainty resulted in depression and anxiety, sometimes as the sole basis of a disability, but more often as a complication of a separate medical condition or conditions. This co-morbidity presented disability carriers with increased claim complexity that resulted in extended durations and more challenging return-to-work facilitation. Several carriers were challenged by an inability to effectively manage this increase in claim complexity, which continues to manifest in different ways.
Brown & Brown Absence Services Group feels relatively certain that disability claim organizations will feel the impact of behavioral health issues in the management of disability claims throughout 2021.
Whereas short-term disability was the product most affected in 2020, long-term disability will be added to the spotlight this year. Carriers who have invested in a claim management model that applies early intervention to claims with a behavioral health component and have a process to identify non-medical drivers, including motivation, perceptions of functional capacity, and perceived barriers to return to work, should expect to experience stable levels of recoveries and durations.