Insight, analysis & opinion from Joe Paduda

< Back to Home

Nov
13

WCRI Annual Conference

The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute is one of the leading research organizations focused on WC. Their annual conference in Cambridge MA just concluded, and once again WCRI produced some interesting and thought-provoking studies.
This year’s conference used a slightly different format, focusing on individual states rather than comparing several, or many, states in a single presentation. Stakeholders from TX, TN, and CA presented after summary data presentations by WCRI staff.
Here’s the highlights as I saw them.
1. Drs. Peter Barth and David Neumark discussed the impact of Provider Choice on Costs and Outcomes. Interesting findings included:
— Costs were lower, and outcomes better, when the employer chose the provider, than when the injured worker chose a provider they had not previously seen.
–When an injured worker chose to use a provider they had previously seen, costs and outcomes were equivalent to those delivered by the employer-selected provider.
–The “new provider”‘s outcomes and costs were significantly worse.
2. The CompScope 4th edition was previewed; this is a summary of medical costs, disability duration, benefit amounts and other outcomes for lost time claims (and others, but we’ll only discuss LT claims) in 12 states. Items of note include:
–Of late, medical costs have been growing rapidly; with costs in all but 3 of the 12 states increasing by more than 10% from 01/02 to 02/03. California saw the highest increase at about 17%. Considering that CA is the largest WC state, that is a truly frightening number.
–There appears to be a strong correlation between medical costs and medical cost containment expenses, with most states favored by low medical costs also enjoying low cost containment expense, and high cost states also burdened by high cost containment expenses. My take is this may be heavily influenced by the percentage of savings model used in PPO deals; the higher the medical costs, the greater the “discounts”; the greater the discounts, the larger the PPO fees; and thus the greater the “cost containment expense”.
So, the higher the medical expense, the more money the deep-discount, percentage-of-savings PPOs make. Interesting incentives…
3. Disability duration factors – Worker age, education level, part-time and/or seasonal workers, and employee-supervisor trust factor were all key factors influencing disability duration. Workers over 60 had much worse return-to-work results than younger workers. There was also wide variation among states, with Texas hampered by RTW rates substantially lower than the median. Regarding education, workers with high school diplomas returned to work much sooner than drop-outs.
The full CompScope 4th edition will be available from WCRI in 2005; while somewhat weighty, it is a “must-read” for managers and executives involved in WC.
Underwriters should also pay close attention to the report; there are a wealth of “indicators” that the insightful underwriter can use to better select, and de-select, risks.


Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates

SUBSCRIBE BY EMAIL


 

SEARCH THIS SITE

A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.

 

DISCLAIMER

© Joe Paduda 2018. We encourage links to any material on this page. Fair use excerpts of material written by Joe Paduda may be used with attribution to Joe Paduda, Managed Care Matters.

Note: Some material on this page may be excerpted from other sources. In such cases, copyright is retained by the respective authors of those sources.

ARCHIVES

Archives