The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) published a new study that examined whether fee schedules increase the number of workers’ compensation claims.
In previous reports, the WCRI found that in many states, workers’ compensation pays higher prices than group health.
Another study they issued, found that in some states, workers’ compensation prices were two to four times higher than group health prices.
Moreover, in most states, WCRI found, the workers’ compensation systems rely heavily on the treating physician to determine whether a specific patient’s injury is work-related or not.
Dr. Olesya Fomenko, the author of the report and an economist at WCRI, said that, “Policymakers have always focused on the impact fee schedules have on access to care as well as utilization of services. This study shines a light on an issue that policymakers and other system stakeholders might not be thinking of, which is that physicians may call an injury work-related in order to receive a higher reimbursement for care he or she provides to the patient.”
Two of the findings from the study are as follows:
- If the cause of injury is not straightforward (e.g., soft tissue conditions), case-shifting is more common in the states with higher workers’ compensation reimbursement rates. In particular, the study estimated that a 20 percent growth in workers’ compensation payments for physician services provided during an office visit increases the number of soft tissue injuries being called work-related by 6 percent.
- There was no evidence of case-shifting from group health to workers’ compensation for patients with conditions for which causation is more certain (e.g., fractures, lacerations, and contusions).
What does this mean?
It means that physicians seeking higher reimbursements are classifying some injuries as work-related, and that there is no evidence of case-shifting from group health where the cause is more determinable.
What it also means is that no matter what the industry tries to do to lower medical costs, there is always a way for physicians and other stakeholders to do the opposite for their own benefit.
And given that, you have to wonder why the industry is deaf, dumb and blind to alternatives that apply basic economic laws to saving money. If you can get a good or service at the same or better quality, and at lower cost, no matter where that is, you go there.
It works that way when buying cars in one state, when the buyer lives in another state, and it should work that way with medical care, particularly regarding surgery.
The industry should not listen to certain individuals who dismiss this idea, and call the locations where better or equal care can be obtained at lower cost, “Turkishmaninacanstans“.
It demeans the hard work and dedication of medical professionals and business people who have spent years and money on building a business to provide health care that is affordable and of the highest quality.
It insults the education and training of doctors, nurses, and medical technicians in those countries who otherwise might not be working in such a highly respect profession as medicine.
It only proves that the author of that canard is a coward, a racist, and dead wrong.