Workers’ comp has paid more than $2 million connected to COVID

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports

The Idaho Legislature considered amending the workers’ compensation law in Idaho to include vaccine injuries, but the state has already paid out more than $2 million for COVID-19 illnesses and vaccine injuries.

Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, pitched HB 417, which would require businesses that mandate their employees to be vaccinated pay the employee workers’ compensation if the employee receives a vaccine injury. Title 72 under Idaho law does not currently specify vaccine injury. Monks’ bill would include all mandated vaccines, not just COVID-19. 

On Tuesday, that bill passed the House in a 67-3 vote, though the Senate State Affairs Committee held the legislation in committee on Wednesday. 

Idaho workers’ compensation is regulated by the Idaho Industrial Commission. If an employee is injured at work, they file a claim through the commission. 

According to a record request filed by Idaho Reports, the Industrial Commission has already received 53 COVID-19 vaccine-related claims as of Oct. 31. Of those, 39 were medical-only claims. Insurance carriers are not required to disclose payments to the commission on medical-only claims. 

Of the 53 claims, three were indemnity claims related to vaccine injury. An indemnity claim is compensation for damages or loss. For those three claims, the commission reported payments of more than $5,600 in medical expenses and more than $3,200 for lost wages

Eleven of the 53 claims were denied.

Full copies of the claims are not subject to public record per Idaho Code.

The Idaho Industrial Commission has received 2,338 employee claims related to COVID-19 as of Oct. 31. Of the 2,338 claims, 53 were related to the vaccine, but most were related to illness from the disease. 

Of the 2,338 claims, 1,520 were medical-only claims, so the amount of money paid is not disclosed by insurance carriers. But 713 of those claims included lost wages. 

Of the 713 claims:

-Paid more than $1.13 million in medical benefits 

-Paid more than $904,000 in lost wages benefits

Another 22 claims were employer paid wages, in lieu of workers’ compensation benefits.

Of those 22 claims:

-More than $22,000 was paid in medical benefits

-More than $32,000 was paid in employer-paid wages in lieu of workers’ compensation

Another 41 claims were employer-paid and did not have final payment reported to the commission.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports “COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines have undergone and continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.”

<strong>Ruth Brown</strong> | Producer
Ruth Brown | Producer

Ruth Brown grew up in South Dakota and her first job out of college was covering the South Dakota Legislature. She’s since moved on to Idaho lawmakers. Brown spent 10 years working in print journalism, including newspapers such as the Idaho Statesman and Idaho Press, where she’s covered everything from the correctional system to health care issues. She joined Idaho Reports in 2021 and looks forward to telling stories about how state policy can impact the lives of regular Idahoans.

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