The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) recently issued its 20th annual report on Workers’ Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs. The study provides estimates of workers’ compensation payments—cash and medical—for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and federal programs providing workers’ compensation.
Much of the study, as reported today by Workers Comp Insider.com, deals with the decrease in benefits as a percentage of payroll, an issue outside the purview of this blog.
But I was intrigued by the graphic at the bottom, which stated that thirty-three states spent more than half their workers’ compensation benefits on medical costs for injured workers.
And the share of total costs of workers’ comp benefits that are medical costs rose from 1980 to 2015, from 29% to 50%.
While the study does not provide any insight into what that 50% represents, it is conceivable to assume that a good part of it involves surgery to repair the injury the worker suffered.
So, if this study is right, then the only way to begin to bring down the medical costs in workers’ comp is to look at alternatives that as of yet have not been tried because of lack of will, or a belief that alternatives are not realistic, or because we still cling to the notion that our healthcare system is the best in the world. and no one else comes close.
As Puck said, “Lord, what fools these mortals be.”