by Hunter Williams
Negative Impact of Opioid Misuse on the Bottom Line
Many US businesses, particularly within the construction industry, are feeling the effects of opioid mismanagement in workers’ compensation claims. The life of a claim increases when an injured employee develops a dependency for prescription medications. This creates a significant increase in worker’s compensation claims costs and high expenses for the business.
Last year, NCCI estimated that for every $100 paid for medical services provided to workers injured in 2014, $17 will be paid for prescription drugs. For every $100 of medical services paid on claims older than 10 years, approximately $45 to $50 will be for prescription drugs (1). This data shows us that many businesses are suffering from legacy claims, meaning they are left open for years, if not the lifetime of an injured employee.
Steps to Control Cost of Workers’ Comp Claims
· Carrier selectivity
Communicate with your broker to research carriers with added value services, including strong claims oversight, nurse case managers, and lower adjuster caseloads. A carrier who keeps your organization current with claims updates and research can prove to be a valuable resource. By helping manage current claims, the carrier may help to control future costs to your organization’s workers’ compensation programs.
· Select a physician panel
If available in your state, identify physicians who take a more conservative approach to the prescribing of pain killers for work-related injuries and will likely offer alternative treatment therapies.
· Utilize your Pharmacy Benefits Management Program (PBM)
Pharmacy Benefit Managers have access to information which can identify if an injured employee is being prescribed medication from multiple sources. Historical data has shown that utilizing PBMs can result in decreased durations of opioid usage among employees.
· Educate your employees on the dangers of opioid overuse and abuse
Provide employees with the knowledge to create awareness about the dangers associated with opioid usage for pain relief. Make them aware that the use of prescribed medications is merely a temporary solution for pain relief and does not eliminate the underlying medical condition that may be causing the pain.
· Stay Proactive
By educating personnel on the risks, implementing the proper protocols, and identifying potential “at risk” employees, employers can help to reduce the severity of workers’ compensation claims and decrease the likelihood of future prescription abuse. Effective communication on open claims and creating a culture of risk management should be priority number one for the health of both your employees and your business.