Category Archives: Treating Physician

Washington State Workers’ Comp Accepts Foreign Medical Providers

Seven years ago, when I was working on my MHA degree, I wrote a paper which has become the basis of this blog.

During that time, I found the website of the Department of Labor & Industries for Washington State, and was surprised to find landing pages that listed physicians in Canada, Mexico, and other countries. These countries were mentioned in my paper, and I have referred to it in subsequent posts from time to time.

However, in the period since, I have noticed that the landing page for other countries was removed. I contacted WA state a while back and was told they were updating it. Yet, as of recently, it is still not been replaced, so I contacted them again yesterday.

I received a reply from Cheryl D’Angelo-Gary, Health Services Analyst at the WA Department of Labor & Industries. She indicated in her response that she is the business owner of the Find a Doctor application (FAD).

According to Ms. D’Angelo-Gary, “our experience showed that most of Washington’s injured workers who leave the country travel to one of these adjacent nations. Workers who travel further afield are advised to work with their claim manager to locate (or likely recruit) a provider. All worker comp claims with overseas mailing addresses are handled by a team of claim managers who have some extra training to help the worker find a qualified provider.”

I asked her to clarify this statement further in my next email by asking if this means that any claimant who travels outside of North America will have to ask the claims manager to find them a doctor.

She replied, “interesting questions!” She also differentiated between an injured worker who is traveling versus one who has relocated out of country.

She went on to say that, “a worker who is traveling and needs claim-related care would be instructed to seek treatment at an ER or urgent care clinic, where the providers do not need to be part of our network and would not be providing ongoing treatment. To be paid, the provider would have to send us a bill and a completed non-network application (available online). Under no circumstances should the provider bill the worker.”

However, she continued, “a worker who has relocated overseas must send in a change of address (required whenever a worker moves). That allows us to transfer management of the claim to a unit that specializes in out-of-country claims. The claim manager would work with the injured worker to help the worker find somebody in their new location. It’s critical (per state law) that the worker choose their own provider, though the provider must meet our requirements and standards of care. Proactive workers tend to handle this well, and find a provider in very little time; less proactive workers can find this challenging. We’re currently looking at this process to see how we can do this better.”

And in final emails to her last night, I tied the first scenario to medical travel, and the second scenario to ex-pats living abroad, but needing medical care. I also asked about workers who wanted to travel back to their home country for medical care, and said that I write about medical travel for workers’ comp.

As of today, I have not heard back, but it is early, and there is a three-hour difference between us.

It must be pointed out that WA state is what is termed a ‘monopolistic state’ in that the state does all the work of handling workers’ comp insurance and claims. Thus, when Ms. D’Angelo-Gary says that worker must work with the claim manager, the claim manager in question is a state employee, and not an employee of a commercial insurance company.

It may be possible, therefore, for medical travel to be implemented in workers’ comp, and it should be something that the medical travel industry and the state should explore together. Ms. D’Angelo-Gary did say they were looking at this process to do better. What better way to improve the process then by utilizing medical travel?

Follow-up to Employee/Employer Choice: Three Years Later

Not that long ago, Michael Grabell of ProPublica, and Howard Berkes of NPR, published a report called “The Demolition of Workers’ Compensation”.

There was much industry condemnation about the report, and my fellow blogger, Joe Paduda, tried to set the record straight, but got nowhere.

I managed to write to Michael and corrected him on the issue of choice of treating physician, which I covered in these two articles: “Employee vs Employer Choice of Physician: How best to Incorporate Medical Tourism into Workers’ Compensation” and “Employee vs. Employer Choice of Physician Revisited: Additional Commentary on How Best to Incorporate Medical Tourism into Workers’ Compensation“.

I sent Michael all of my research and I think he was convinced that employees had more choice, it was just a matter of what options they had, given each state’s workers’ comp laws.

One of the sources I used back then, and today was a joint publication between the WCRI and the IAIABC,”Workers’ Compensation Laws As of January 1, 2016”, which can be purchased here.

Here is my version of their Table 3:

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Notes: * Employee may seek reasonable care on his or her own at employer’s expense
** Can allow worker to select then other party may choose to direct it for next 60 days
*** Employee for non-network claims, any willing provider; network claims, from list by network
**** Employer may have on-site medical provider that employees must see first, then employee can select

But as you will notice, the far left column has the most number of states where the employees can choose their treating physicians, although some do have certain circumstances where the employer has the choice, or there are conditions that must be met.

Relying on the US Chamber of Commerce, as Michael told me he did, does not get you the right data. Using the statutes and laws themselves is the only way to know what is permitted and what is not permitted. And the employee for the most part, does have a say in his or her care.


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.

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

I am also looking for a partner who shares my vision of global health care for injured workers.

I am also willing to work with any health care provider, medical tourism facilitator or facility to help you take advantage of a market segment treating workers injured on the job. Workers’ compensation is going through dramatic changes, and may one day be folded into general health care. Injured workers needing surgery for compensable injuries will need to seek alternatives that provide quality medical care at lower cost to their employers. Caribbean and Latin America region preferred.

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

Will accept invitations to speak or attend conferences.

Connect with me on LinkedIn, check out my website, FutureComp Consulting, and follow my blog at: richardkrasner.wordpress.com.

Transforming Workers’ Blog is now viewed all over the world in 250 countries and political entities. I have published nearly 300 articles, many of them re-published in newsletters and other blogs.

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Texas State House Seeks to Change Rules for Workers’ Comp

As reported this morning by Elena Mejia in the Houston Chronicle, members of a Texas State House committee are calling for major reforms to that state’s workers’ compensation program that would change coverage rules that now leave thousands of workers uninsured.

Yesterday, the House Committee on Business and Industry questioned state Insurance Department officials at length about employers who are now failing to provide coverage and continuing complaints about the state’s designated-doctor program.

Texas was the first and only state to allow employers to opt-out of the statutory workers’ comp system until Oklahoma passed legislation, that has since been ruled unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Testimony given before the committee indicated that participation by physicians in the Designated Doctor Program, in which state-approved doctors examine injured workers to decide claims in disputed cases, has dropped precipitously.

According to Stephen Norwood of the Texas Orthopedic Association, participation is down 67 percent, mostly because the state does not reimburse physicians enough for expenses to travel to remote locations.

Mr. Norwood stated that, “All this time away and expense often unexpectedly to remote locations doesn’t make it feasible for physicians to participate,”… “If you allowed proper specialists to evaluate several workers during same travel, you increase access of workers to more appropriate exams and more efficiency to physicians.”

This testimony caught my eye, as generally, I don’t write specifically about one state, but take an overall, big picture view of the issues surrounding workers’ comp and discuss how medical travel can be implemented to relieve those issues.

This would be a perfect scenario for such implementation, so that injured workers in remote parts of Texas can get their treatment in Mexico that may be less expensive to travel to, rather than to have physicians to take the time and expense to travel to those remote locations.

But I suspect that that solution will elude the Texas legislators like so many other issues have eluded them, such as allowing women the right to have abortions, or the right of all workers to be covered under a mandatory state workers’ comp system that is fair to both injured workers and their employers.

But that would be asking too much of them. Sort of like asking the village idiot from Texas to not think about going to war in two countries at the same time.

 

New York Docs Refuse to Accept Injured Workers

In a video report on New York TV station WNBC-TV, an injured worker was referred to a list of ophthalmologists in Brooklyn by the New York Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), and all doctors on the list refused to accept workers’ compensation, even though the state’s online database said they did.

The reporter, Chris Glorioso, contacted every doctor on the list and was told the same thing that the injured worker, George Akturk, was told, and even one doctor told Glorioso that they used to accept workers’ comp twenty years ago.

According to the report, the results showed that the state’s list of authorized practitioners was severely outdated.

Although each doctor was listed as a workers’ comp participant, Glorioso discovered,  two-thirds of the offices reported they do not participate in the program.

He also found that thirteen doctors’ offices reported they do accept workers’ comp, but most of them do not perform the kind of retinal surgery prescribed for Akturk.

 Dr Michael Lax, director of the SUNY Upstate Occupational Health Clinic, said the real reason doctors are dropping out of the system is that insurance companies and state regulators increasingly control medical decisions.

In 2010, New York adopted medical treatment guidelines that restrict the medical discretion of specialists.

This is another example of how so-called workers’ comp ‘reforms’ are directed not towards improving the lives of the injured workers, but to save money for the carriers, and that regulators are more interested in restricting medical care than treating the injured worker and getting them back to work faster.

Here is the link to the report and accompanying video:

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/investigations/NY-Refers-Injured-Workers-to-Docs-that-Dont-Accept-Workers-Comp-372153352.html

Medical Management Internship Paper, Summer 2011

No doubt, many of my readers have wondered what I learned in my MHA degree program, and why my writing has been of interest to so many of you.

Upon checking my stats for the blog, I noticed that someone had viewed a paper I wrote in the summer of 2011 for my Summer Internship course, as part of my MHA degree program requirements. The school I attended required all students without a health care background to take a one-credit course as an Intern in a health care organization.

The organization I choose was one my school already contracted with, Broadspire. At the end of the course, we were expected to write a paper about our internship for a grade in the course.

The following link will direct the reader to a copy of my paper that I hope the reader will find interesting, and will highlight my skills as a researcher and writer. Speaking engagements as well as research opportunities are most welcome, as are full-time positions and consulting opportunities.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5573hm8xo074po0/Medical%20Management%20Internship%20Paper.docx?dl=0

As the summer session was very short, only three projects were undertaken, and the last one was truncated due to time constraints and the report presented to Broadspire concentrated on only two states, Florida and California.

Let me know your thoughts.

Employer Choice States See Lower Claim Costs

Introduction

When I started this blog three years ago, one of the first topics I covered was the issue of employee/employer choice of treating physician (see “Employee vs Employer Choice of Physician: How best to Incorporate Medical Tourism into Workers’ Compensation” and “Employee vs. Employer Choice of Physician Revisited: Additional Commentary on How Best to Incorporate Medical Tourism into Workers’ Compensation“).

Then in March of this year, ProPublica’s Michael Grabell and NPR’s Howard Berkes, wrote an article called, “The Demolition of Workers’ Compensation“, which was a first in of a series about the workers’ compensation system.

In the article, Grabell said that in 37 states, the worker cannot choose his doctor, or they are restricted to a list provided by their employer. This statement generated some concern from the industry.

My fellow blogger, Joe Paduda tried to get them to see both sides, but gave up the effort when it did not result in any discussion between them, as he wrote about the following day, calling the reporting a “public disservice”.

The next day, I wrote to Mr. Grabell, and told him that his facts were wrong. He told me in his response that he relied on data from the US Chamber of Commerce.

I told him that the WCRI and the state statutes were a more accurate source of information. My email thread covered eight messages that day. I provided him with the data I used in the articles cited above, and in the presentation I gave the previous November in Mexico.

Lower Costs When Doctor is Chosen By Employer

Business Insurance’s Stephanie Goldberg today reported on a study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, that found that the average medical cost per work comp claim is lower in states where the employer chooses the worker’s initial treating physician.

Average medical costs were $308 lower in those states where the employer can choose the treating doctor for employees with low back pain, than in states where the workers were allowed to choose, Goldberg reported.

The study, sponsored by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, said that states limiting treating provider change had higher medical costs than states that allow a one-time change.

There was however, the study found, no significant difference in average medical costs between cases in states that limit initial change and states that don’t, according to Goldberg.

Employers participating in a managed care organization, preferred provider organization or coordinated care organization in states like California and Florida, are allowed to to direct care. States like Arizona and Massachusetts allow workers to chose their providers.

The study also found, that the average medical costs ranges from $1211 in New York to $4514 in Texas, and length of disability ranged from 19 days in Missouri to 69 days in Texas.

The study was compiled using more that 59,000 low back pain claims between 2002 and 2009 from 49 jurisdictions, including Washington, DC, and did not include North Dakota and Wyoming.