Between the Affordable Care Act, new healthcare treatments, and the amount of older workers, workers compensation has a number of issues facing it. Find out more about the trends today, so you can better prepare for the future.
Technology continues to sweep across states, cities and towns, with medical advancements becoming more and more effective. Communication and flexibility has also improved considerably. Injuries and illness are more likely than ever to be treated over a Skype video rather than an in-person consultation. It gives people who may have been averse to visiting a doctor more control over how they obtain their information and treatment recommendations. It generally means better long-term care as well. The more health tools available, the better it is for workers. These advances are obviously great, but in general, it raises the costs for everyone. A $10 million used to be incredibly rare, but this is now becoming extremely common. Even accounting for inflation, costs continue to rise.
Different doctors have very different opinions about what constitutes the right treatment, and many have underlying agendas that have nothing to do with health. Workers compensation needs to become more conscious of the fact that dollars are being lost in a system that is largely unable to regulate the doctors within. This is why the industry is seeing states looking at their guidelines to see how they can improve consistency, and potentially implementing fee schedules that involve the insurance carriers, so there is more focus and visibility in terms of who is paying for what. There needs to be more thought and oversight given to the care of the patients who have dramatic conditions. The decision to use addictive prescriptions, surgeries, tests and more all need to be carefully weighed for the benefit of employee, employer, provider and insurance provider.
States will continue to reduce the costs paid for workers compensation claims by implementing smarter guidelines for care. There may be more investigations into companies after injuries occur, ensuring that the conditions have improved as much as possible to further eliminate costs. However, some experts think that the ramping up of costs may be a systemic issue, meaning that these efforts may do little to truly bring the costs down. Again, this is mainly due to the fact that technology has simply made it more expensive to treat patients with the best possible care. The experts also state that you will likely see more claims involving mental health down the line. This is a new issue that employers are starting to give more consideration to, especially because mental health is linked to common serious conditions like heart disease.