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Disability Insurers Prepare for 'Long COVID' Return-to-Work Effort

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What You Need to Know

  • Professionals call the condition post-acute sequelae of COVID-19,
  • Roughly 10% of COVID-19 survivors may suffer from PASC.
  • The return-to-work team at The Standard expects to help many employees find ways to work around PASC symptoms.

COVID-19 kills some people. It gives many other people — including people with good jobs and good insurance — pain, fatigue and brain fog.

Charles Glassman, a doctor and associate medical director at The Standard, and Dan Jolivet, a workplace possibilities practice consultant at The Standard, talked about helping COVID-19 survivors return to work, during an online conference session organized by the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC).

Glassman and Jolivet gave a presentation on their current thinking about “post-acute sequelae of COVID-19″ (PASC), which is the condition commonly known as “long COVID.”

The aches, weariness and confusion associated with PASC may affect more than 10% of the people who recover from COVID-19, Glassman and Jolivet told DMEC attendees, according to a copy of their presentation slidedeck provided to ThinkAdvisor.

PASC is more likely to affect older, lower-income people with serious pre-existing conditions and severe cases of COVID-19, but it can also affect younger people who suffer from relatively mild cases of COVID-19.

Eventually, Glassman and Jolivet predicted, PASC could affect 3.1 million people, or about 2% of the workforce.

In July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice put out a document suggesting that PASC can be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law that requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

“Employers with PASC are likely to become one of the largest groups of workers requiring accommodations,” Glassman and Jolivet said. ”The subjective nature of the complaints and variability of symptoms may pose treatment challenges. … Case management will require customized, hands-on approaches.”

Employers, disability insurers and return-to-work advisors also may have to offer similar kinds of help to employees with other chronic conditions that have developed or gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, the speakers warned.

(Image: Adobe Stock)