Are opioids driving up comp medical costs?

Two articles in WorkCompCentral yesterday grabbed my attention.

One discussed an 8.7% rate increase recommended by California’s regulators (down from a 9.5% recommended by another group.  Part of the increase was attributable to “overall market deterioration, the causes of which are not clear.”  Greg Jones’ piece went on to paraphrase Dave Bellusci, EVP and Chief Actuary for California’s rating bureau, who reportedly said it was “too early to say what is driving the higher medical loss severity and growing claim frequency.”

Another piece cited the latest research by CWCI and Axiomedics’ Dr Laura Gardner. The lede of the story was this:

“Claims featuring multiple opioid prescriptions are linked to higher rates of indemnity claims, more expensive medical benefits payments, a greater probability of attorney involvement and lower claim closure rates.”

I don’t want to leap to conclusions here, as correlation does not equal causation, however the juxtaposition of the two stories was striking, especially when one recalls that the prevalence of opioids in workers comp has increased dramatically over the last decade.

What does this mean for you?

What is the impact of opioids on your medical and claims costs?

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