Rising Medical Costs for Workplace Injuries Two Decades Ago


Rising Medical Costs for Workplace Injuries Two Decades Ago

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) recently released a study, “Medical Services for Claims 20 or More Years Old”, indicating that an increased percentage of medical costs for workplace injuries is as a result of treatment provided more than 20 years after an injury occurs. According to the NCCI, “It is likely that more than 10 percent of the cost of medical benefits for the workplace injuries that occur this year will be for services provided more than two decades into the future.”

Who is being treating for injuries occurring more than two decades ago and for what?

According to the NCCI, men were 71% of the claimants treated late-term. Male claimants are, on average, one year younger than female claimants (male and female average ages at injury are 39 and 40, respectively; average ages at treatment are 61 and 62). Deteriorating medical conditions of the more elderly claimants is not a main cost driver; in fact, claimants younger than age 60 cost more per year, per claimant, to treat than those older than age 60. Regarding services within the first 20 years after injury, care provided later has a significantly greater portion of cost going toward prescription medications, supplies, home health services, and the maintenance of implants, orthotics, and prosthetics.

Drug treatments account for 38% of services provided from 20-30 years after an injury, which represents a jump from 9% services provided within 20 years of an injury.  The top drug, OxyContin, accounts for 6% of Workers Compensation medication costs in 2009 and that share rises another five percentage points to 11% for late-term care. Opioid chronic pain medications, such as Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) and Fentanyl (Duragesic), are generally higher within late-term care than within all medication costs for 2009.

At the other end of the spectrum, surgery drops from 22% of services provided within 20 years of an injury to 7% of services provided from 20-30 years afterward.

With regards to the types of medical conditions typically treated 20 years after an injury, the report says disease cases and cases with complications from a medical procedure account for more than three-fourths of late-term payments. Treatments for traumatic conditions other than complications account for less than one-fifth of the cost of late-term care.

Caitlin Morgan has been specializing in the placement of guaranteed cost workers’ compensation for many years, with experience in the areas of underwriting, claims management, and loss prevention. Whether your client is a minimum premium account or a tougher to place risk, Caitlin Morgan is here to help you meet your clients’ needs.

Source: NCCI