Back Surgery Varies from State to State

James Moore reported today on a study released last week by the Workers’ Comp Research Institute (WCRI).

Back injuries accounted for 20% of all workers comp claims, the study found.

The WCRI said that:

Although common, how to best treat the injury—for example, when surgery is clinically appropriate or not—is controversial and lacks clinical consensus. Moreover, the frequency of surgery among workers with back injuries varies widely from state to state.”

There was a 200% variance between whether someone with a back pain diagnoses actually had back surgery:

  • 20% of workers with back pain had surgery in Oklahoma or Tennessee
  • Less than 10% of workers in California or Florida with back pain had the same surgery.

The three key factors that increased the likelihood of surgery, from the study are as follows:

  • Surgery-intensive local practice norms – this is a very important component 
  • Higher reimbursement rates for surgery, and
  • More surgeons in an area each independently were associated with higher likelihoods that an injured worker had back surgery.

These are the states the WCRI used in the study:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas.

North Carolina is the home state of HSM, the company that sent employees to Costa Rica for back and other surgeries, as mentioned in “US Companies Look to ‘Medical Tourism’ To Cut Costs” and in “Self-insured firms offer medical tourism option to cut health care costs“, so I am not surprised that North Carolina was studied.

HSM’s employees had disc replacement surgery in Costa Rica that was far less expensive than here in the US, and provided their employees with greater mobility, something that the current treatment in the US, spinal fusion, does not provide.

So if you are an employer in any of these states, you might consider doing what HSM did, and go out of the country to provide your injured workers needing back surgery a less expensive alternative, that has a better outcome.

The choice is yours.


I am willing to work with any broker, carrier, or employer interested in saving money on expensive surgeries, and to provide the best care for their injured workers or their client’s employees.

Call me for more information, next steps, or connection strategies at (561) 738-0458 or (561) 603-1685, cell. Email me at:

Ask me any questions you may have on how to save money on expensive surgeries under workers’ comp.

Connect with me on LinkedIn, check out my website, FutureComp Consulting, and follow my blog at: Share this article, or leave a comment below.

This entry was posted in Back surgery, Costa Rica, Medical Tourism, Medical Travel, WCRI, Workers' Comp, 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: Resume:

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