Opioid Abuse in Workers’ Compensation: What the Medical Tourism Industry Needs to Know

opioid abuseopioid abuse

One workers’ compensation topic that I have avoided discussing so far, given that the tagline of my blog is about implementing medical tourism into workers’ compensation, is the issue of opioid abuse in workers’ compensation.

Many articles and blog postings have been written describing the problem and the ways in which insurance companies, third party administrators, claims management firms, pharmacy benefit management firms, brokers, claims and risk managers, state and federal government agencies, and other interested parties are trying to get a handle on this problem.

It is a very complex and complicated issue, and one that has many in the workers’ compensation industry concerned because it drives up medical costs for claims, adds to the number of claims filed not only due to an injury, but to the abuse and addiction it engenders. It also impairs workers who then get injured again due to the effects of the medication, and it lowers productivity and prolongs the time employees take to return to work.

Business Insurance issued a White Paper on the subject last year entitled, Opioid Abuse & Workers’ Comp. In the paper, the authors describe the growing use of opioids that create abuse issues, the multiple factors causing the persistent problem, the rise of employer costs as abuse widens, the mix of strategies being used to combat this problem, and how to track selected metrics that are being used to support the goals workers comp managers establish to reduce abuse.

It so happens that some of the individuals who are quoted in the paper are people I know from other blogs, such as Joe Paduda, or are one of my LinkedIn connections, or I knew when I did my summer internship at the Third Party Administrator, Broadspire’s Sunrise, Florida office as part of my MHA degree program requirements in 2011.

One of the projects that I worked on while at Broadspire dealt with the dispensing of drugs by physicians, which is another important problem in workers’ compensation, and is related to opioid abuse, since most of the drugs prescribed in workers’ comp are the Schedule drugs being abused the most in the US. What I found was that the most serious problem of prescribing drugs was in California, and was not confined to physicians alone, but to pharmacies as well. Florida was the other state that had the most drugs prescribed by pharmacies or physicians. Time did not allow me to look at the other states of the country.

While not wanting to get too deep into the subject, I believe that it is important for those in the medical tourism industry to be cognizant and aware of the problem. Those who would like to pursue implementation of medical tourism into the workers’ compensation system in the US should realize that such a problem exists, so that in the future, if a self-insured employer or commercially insured employer should send one of their injured workers abroad for medical treatment of a work-related injury, the facilitator and the staff of the hospital where treatment is provided, knows that abuse of pain medication is a rampant problem among US workers’ compensation claimants.

This is even more incumbent upon those who, as I mentioned in my last post, What Role Can Medical Tourism Play in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Workers’ Compensation?, might want to get into the area of physical therapy and rehabilitation, since the goal of rehab and therapy is to get the patient back to work faster, and one of the side effects of abuse is prolonged disability.

This is a serious issue for the workers’ compensation industry at the present time, and before medical tourism can be properly implemented, it is advisable that it is taken just as seriously in the medical tourism industry as well.

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This entry was posted in Medical Tourism, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , on by .

About Transforming Workers' Comp

Have worked in the Insurance and Risk Management industry for more than thirty years in New York, Florida and Texas in the Claims and Risk Management spheres, primarily in Workers’ Compensation Claims, Auto No-Fault and Property & Casualty Claims Administration and Claims Management. Have experience in Risk and Insurance Business Analysis, Risk Management Information Systems, and Insurance Data Processing and Data Management. Received my Master’s in Health Administration (MHA) degree from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida in December 2011. Received my Master of Arts (MA) degree in American History from New York University, and received my Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Liberal Arts (Political Science/History/Social Sciences) from SUNY Brockport. I have studied World History, Global Politics, and have a strong interest in the future of human civilization in all aspects; economic, political and social. I am looking for new opportunities that will utilize my previous experience and MHA degree. I am available for speaking engagements and am willing to travel. LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardkrasner Resume: https://www.box.com/s/z8rxcks6ix41m3ocvvep

2 thoughts on “Opioid Abuse in Workers’ Compensation: What the Medical Tourism Industry Needs to Know

  1. orginsightrob

    Nice post, very clearly written.

    Robert Goldberg Organization Insight, LLC 336 856-7211 Our New Blog! Engage http://blog.orginsight.com

    From: richardkrasner Reply-To: richardkrasner Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 9:50 PM To: Robert Goldberg Subject: [New post] Opioid Abuse in Workers Compensation: What the Medical Tourism Industry Needs to Know

    WordPress.com richardkrasner posted: “One workers’ compensation topic that I have avoided discussing so far, given that the tagline of my blog is about implementing medical tourism into workers’ compensation, is the issue of opioid abuse in workers’ compensation. Many articles and blog postin”

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