6 Steps to Mitigate PTSD Workers’ Comp Claims after Trauma

Escape, hide, fight back. Those are the suggested reactions — in order — to an active shooter situation provided to employees of one of the nation’s largest supermarket chains. In a dramatic, realistic-looking video, a man with a gun walks into a grocery store and begins shooting.

 

The fact that the video is part of required training for all company employees underscores the very real threat of violence in many workplaces. While employers can and should take any and all precautions to prevent violent incidents from occurring, there are still situations that arise all too often.

 

One thing companies can do is prevent such a situation from escalating into long term claims involving post traumatic stress disorder. Identifying and intervening early after a workplace trauma will help ensure employees recover and get back to work as quickly as possible.

 

 

Who Gets PTSD

 

Just about everyone will have stressful reactions to a traumatic event, such as workplace  violence. But the vast majority will recover and have no symptoms within several months.

 

A segment of the population — around 7 to12 percent will have a more difficult time recovering. They may improve, only to see their symptoms recur with a new stressor. Some may develop a lifelong illness that affects every aspect of their lives.

 

Diagnosing PTSD is not an exact science, as its symptoms often mirror other conditions. Generally, experts say having the following for more than one month are clues:

 

  • Reliving the event. Internal or external cues that resemble any aspect of the incident may cause images, perceptions, dreams, or dissociative flashback episodes.
  • Avoiding certain stimuli. The employee may refuse to discuss the incident, or avoid places or people associated with it, including coworkers.
  • No interest in participating in group activities.
  • Feeling detached from others.
  • Emotional overload. The worker may be irritable or have outbursts of anger, or trouble concentrating, and may be easily startled.
  • Physical symptoms. Headaches, high blood pressure or gastrointestinal issues may be present as well.

 

The risk of developing PTSD depends on many factors, including the presence of psychosocial issues. Even many of those who recover slowly and are at increased risk can be helped and recover, often within 8 to 12 weeks. The key is to get them into appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

 

 

Crisis Intervention

 

Traumatic incidents can happen in any industry, but are especially prevalent in certain ones. Employers in fields such as healthcare and retail are wise to consider implementing a post trauma crisis intervention protocol to help employees immediately after a traumatic event.

 

The plan should include the following elements:

 

  1. Early contact. Within 24 hours of a workplace trauma, employees should be contacted by a trained trauma specialist. That contact should continue until there is a face-to-face meeting for acute psychological intervention. Responding early shows the employer cares about the employees, which can help prevent delayed recovery and require less use of medical and mental health services.
  2. Face-to-face assessment. A psychologist should perform an assessment and begin trauma recovery of care. In most cases, no more than three visits will be needed before the employee can return to work.
  3. PTSD determination. If symptoms persist for more than one month, the psychologist should conduct a criterion-based PTSD diagnostic assessment to help determine whether the workplace trauma was the actual cause of the employee’s symptoms.
  4. Trauma interventions. An employee diagnosed with PTSD may find his work and daily living is disrupted. Increased absenteeism and decreased productivity may be among the results. Once a PTSD determination is made, the worker should be referred for specific treatment.
  5. Long, drawn-out therapies are not necessarily needed to help injured workers with PTSD. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, has been shown to help. It includes principles of learning and conditioning to help injured workers change their negative beliefs about themselves while gradually exposing them to the thoughts and situations they fear. Exposure/desensitization therapy is also effective in treating PTSD. This may involve imaginal exposure, where the worker is exposed to the traumatic event through mental imagery; or in vivo therapy, in which the worker confronts the actual scene or similar events associated with the trauma.
  6. Short term use of certain medications may be helpful, depending on the severity of the symptoms and the worker’s preference. Some antidepressants have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat PTSD. However, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Klonopin should be avoided, as there is no evidence they are beneficial and can even increase the likelihood of developing PTSD when they are prescribed in the acute aftermath of trauma exposure.

 

Conclusion

 

Workplace trauma can take a devastating toll on all affected employees and an organization as a whole. But it does not need to result in long term disabilities.

 

The vast majority of people who are exposed to traumatic events recover with limited help. Of those who need further follow up, many will be able to return to work and function. Employers who are proactive about identifying and intervening can better protect their workers and their bottom lines.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

4 Keys to Successful Workers’ Comp Vendor Management

workers' comp vendor managementBusiness success relies on having the right people in the right jobs. Often that means outsourcing aspects of the business that are best handled by others. To maximize these relationships, you need to ensure your vendors’ goals are aligned with yours and they are giving you the best value for your money.

 

Too many organizations in the workers’ compensation system fail to appropriately manage their vendors and instead assume they are doing what is expected. These companies miss out on opportunities to positively impact their workers’ compensation programs and their bottom lines.

 

Vendor partners should be just that: partners in your business. Their relationship with you should be transparent and cost effective. Rather than outside entities, they should be considered part of your overall team.

 

 

Select the Most Appropriate Vendor

 

The first step in creating effective partnerships with vendors is to choose the ones that are best for your particular organization. Whether you seek a third-party administrator, medical providers, pharmacy benefit manager, medical bill review company, or something else, the process is generally the same. You need to first understand what you want from a particular vendor.

 

Analyzing your business requirements is a good first step, as that can lead you to the type of vendor(s) you need. Form a diverse team that will be working most closely with the vendor and brainstorm over the most important requirements that will benefit your organization. Come up with an outline of the ideal vendor, and include questions to ask prospects. Then identify prospective vendors that at least meet your minimum requirements.

 

In evaluating the vendors make sure you keep to the goals outlined by the team, so you don’t get swayed by those offering all sorts of bells and whistles that you really don’t need. Ask questions about the services the vendor provides and the success rates. You can also ask for a client list or at least a couple of clients to speak with.

 

You may also ask if the company conducts internal audits and, if so, if it will share the findings with you on a regular basis. While the vendor may not routinely share all aspects of an audit you can at least get a sense of challenges the company faces.

 

 

Set up the Contract

 

This part is crucial as it sets the tone for the partnership. Consider using a service level agreement (SLA) and/or risk/reward strategies. A SLA defines the level of service expected, and includes things such as time frames for various reports. You want to include performance measures so you can hold the vendor accountable to them.  The contract may also include incentives for the vendor to meet or exceed expectations, and penalties for failing to meet them.

 

Before you enter into a final agreement, decide how long or short of a term you want and whether you want an exclusive relationship with the vendor. It’s also important to look for hidden costs. Find out, for example, if a price quoted includes data capture or reporting.

 

 

Communicate Regularly


Now that you have the vendor on board:

 

  • Are you getting timely reports that are clear and actionable?
  • Is the vendor keeping you in the loop when challenges arise?

 

Minor problems like these can be avoided or easily cleared up with ongoing communication.

 

 

Evaluate

 

The vendor’s performance should be monitored, especially once the contract is implemented. Qualitative or outcome based performance measures agreed to by your internal team and included in the contract should be met. For example, are the providers in your network using evidence-based medicine? Do they meet the expected return-to-work rates?

 

Quality assurance audits conducted by independent reviewers can also be used to point out problems that may be hindering your workers’ compensation program.

 

Finally, make sure you are getting the aggregate data that you need, when you need it. Review reports the vendor gives you to make sure they provide valuable information that will help you further improve your overall workers’ compensation program.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Outside vendors can save you money and help ensure the best outcomes for injured workers. But they need to be part of your organization. By finding the best ones and working with them closely vendors can and should be a valuable asset to your organization.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

3 Instances to STOP Unnecessary Temporary Total Disability Benefits

Members of the claims management team need to be mindful of their files when the injured worker is receiving wage loss benefits, including temporary total disability (TTD) benefits.  While these benefits are mostly capped, failure to pay only these benefits the employee is entitled to can significantly raise the cost of a claim and negativity impact your program’s bottom line.

 

 

Payment of TTD Benefits

 

The majority rule is TTD benefits are paid to a claimant at two-thirds of their average weekly wage.  In some jurisdictions, there is a three- to seven-day waiting period before the payment of TTD is to commence following disability.  These benefits are payable to the employee following an injury when based on their physical condition, in combination with age, training and experience and the type of work available in this community, they are unable to secure anything more than sporadic employment.  A cap on the number of weeks TTD benefits are payable is in force under most workers’ compensation acts.

 

 

Discontinuing the Payment of TTD Benefits

 

There are a number of instances where employers/insurers can terminate the payment of TTD benefits.  These defenses to the payment of wage loss benefits are defined by statute and subject to limitations and other due process considerations.  In some instances, benefits will terminate once a condition is met and or post-discontinue period expires.  Statute will also define how the payment of TTD benefits will recommence.

 

Being proactive claims handlers requires a diligence in looking for legal and ethical opportunities to discontinue the payment of TTD benefits.  Some common instances include:

 

  • Refusal of job offer: Injured workers sometimes lose the ability to choose what type of work they perform following a work injury.  Refusal of an offer of gainful employment within the employee’s physical restrictions or a rehabilitation plan can result in loss of ongoing TTD benefits.  This is based on the premise that the injured party must mitigate their losses.

 

  • Withdrawal from the labor market: Following a work injury, an employee is required to remain in the labor market provided they are not completely restricted from work.  Simply put, sustaining a work injury does not entitle someone the opportunity to take a vacation, spend time at his or her cabin, or move to a warmer climate.  (subject to applicable FMLA laws)

 

  • Attainment of maximum medical improvement (MMI): Reaching the end of one’s healing can serve as a basis for discontinuing TTD benefits in many jurisdictions.  MMI signifies the end of healing, assignment of permanent restrictions, if any, and a determination regarding permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits.  This can be determined via the employee’s treating doctor or following an independent medical examination (IME).

 

 

Conclusions

 

Termination of wage loss benefits is dependent upon each jurisdiction’s workers’ compensation act and case law interpretations.  Claim handlers need to understand what events can trigger a discontinuation of benefits.  They also must understand the nuances within the law to effectivity make such determinations.  Understanding these concepts can lead to significant savings in any program.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

9 Steps to Get the Best Out of Your Workers’ Comp Adjuster

Having a great claims adjuster can be invaluable. Claims are processed smoothly, timely, and satisfactorily.

 

But getting the ideal adjuster is not always possible, and employers often blame adjusters when things don’t go as efficiently as they could. Should you seek a different adjuster, or just accept that you’re stuck with a dud? Actually, you may be able to avoid both. By taking a step back to gain some insight into the adjuster’s world and using a few simple strategies, you may be able to turn things around.

 

 

Set Realistic Expectations

 

The adjuster’s role is the fair and reasonable settlement of claims. First step is to figure out what that means to you and how it fits in with your company’s claims handling plan. Setting up expectations is important. If there are no clear directions or goals, you really can’t blame the adjuster for failing to meet your expectations.

 

For example, do you want the adjuster to be in constant contact with you, or do you want communication only when absolutely necessary? You need to determine that and let the adjuster know.

 

If you expect the adjuster to resolve claims within a certain period of time, are you doing all you can to facilitate that? How soon are injuries reported? Is that on a consistent basis? Do you have a timeframe for when and how investigations are performed?

 

Other factors can also affect the resolution of claims. Not having a return-to-work program or light duty/transitional work can make more work for the adjuster, along with the lack of a fraud prevention program. Make sure your actions and goals are in line with your expectations of your adjuster.

 

 

Understand the Adjuster

 

It can be upsetting when the adjuster doesn’t get back to you when you think he should, or denies treatment on a claim with no explanation or approves a questionable claim. But seeing things from the adjuster’s standpoint can help.

 

Instead of lambasting the adjuster, consider what is happening on his end. Being an adjuster can be a thankless job;

 

  • There are constant questions, emails and phone calls, often from disgruntled employees, employers or others.
  • His caseload may be overwhelming.
  • There are constant deadlines that may or may not be achievable.
  • The turnover for the profession is such that his office may be understaffed at any given time.
  • While you might be easy to work with, others may not be.

 

You can find out what’s going on by talking with the adjuster.

 

Build a Relationship

 

Developing a bond with the adjuster can go a long way toward having a better connection with him. Working better with the adjuster can involve a few simple steps:

 

  1. Pay him a visit. A ‘chairside visit’ is a great way to establish a good relationship with an adjuster. For this informal meeting, you literally sit at his desk to understand the demands of his day. You can also take the opportunity to learn how he handles claims; the intake process, medical-only and lost-time claims, and catastrophic claims.

 

  1. Get to know him on a personal level. While you don’t need to be best friends, you can find out a little about him — his home life, kids, hobbies, etc.

 

  1. Realize he is the expert. Even if you don’t like the way he’s handling a claim show him respect. That said, find out his expertise level. If he’s new to the profession, he’s probably not the right person to handle complex claims. On the other hand, a highly experienced adjuster might be bored handling simple, medical only claims.

 

  1. Ask questions. There may be good reasons for the way he’s handled certain aspects of a claim. Don’t just get angry, find out why. Ask open-ended questions that are not accusatory. Putting him on the defensive won’t help your relationship, and it likely won’t get you answers.

 

  1. Give praise when warranted. If the adjuster does a particularly good job with a claim, tell him so. He’s probably much more used to hearing negative comments than true appreciation. Doing so will make things much easier when you later have concerns about a claim.
  2. Listen to what he says. You may have ideas to solve some of the challenges he’s facing.

 

  1. Offer to help. There may be things you can do that would help him expedite the claims process.

 

 

Conclusion

 

If you’re having problems with your adjuster, first look at your own program. Having an organized plan for claims handling and relaying that sets up realistic expectations.

 

Then, work with the adjuster. Develop a bond so you can easily find out the reasons for any problems and set up strategies to avoid future challenges.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

4 Items Claims Handlers Want From Their Defense Attorney

Workers’ compensation defense attorneys may lay awake at night wondering what their claims handler really wants.  Besides getting their files closed in a timely manner, they want to work with defense attorneys committed to a zealous defense of the file in an ethical and cost-effective manner.  Here are some tips that can help defense attorneys sleep better at night knowing they are giving their claims handler what they want.

 

 

Calculate the Average Weekly Wage (AWW)

 

The AWW is the basis for most indemnity benefits in a workers’ compensation claim.  Failing to calculate it correctly can increase the cost and exposure of the claim.  A seasoned defense attorney needs to communicate with the employer and receive additional explanation from the employee on a number of issues.  The list can be endless, but some special considerations include:

 

  • Whether the employee was a full or part-time worker;

 

  • Whether the employee was working any additional jobs outside the employer involved in the claim;

 

  • Investigation into the nature of any fringe benefits the employee was receiving. This includes tips, bonuses, insurance benefits and other forms on potential income; and

 

  • Special circumstances concerning the employee’s employment. This is especially the case when the injured worker in a seasonal employee, construction worker or part of a union collective bargaining agreement.

 

 

Calculate and Evaluate the Indemnity Exposure

 

Once the AWW is correctly calculated, the defense attorney can provide an accurate analysis to the claims management team about wage loss exposure.  This includes information on the following benefits:

 

  • Temporary Total Disability (TTD)—Benefits paid when the employee is temporarily off work due to injury or disability;

 

  • Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)—Benefits paid when the employee returns to work, but at reduced hours or rate of pay;

 

  • Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)—Typically a hybrid benefit based on the AWW and the number of weeks disability assigned by statute or rule to an injury; and

 

  • Permanent Total Disability (PTD)—Benefits paid when the employee is permanently precluded from returning to gainful employment based on their age, training and experience, and the type of work available in the geographical area. Various presumptions may apply concerning an employee’s receipt of Social Security Disability benefits.

 

 

Aggressive Defense Strategy That is Cost-Effective

 

Members of the claims management team also appreciate an aggressive defense strategy that moves a case toward settlement in an efficient and cost-effective manner.  Considerations for such planning include:

 

  • An immediate status report upon receiving the claims file, with periodic reports that are robust and evaluate the strengths and weakness of various defenses, a reasonable strategy and probable outcome;

 

  • Identification of missing information that needs to be discovered in order to provide an accurate analysis and defense. This includes a plan on how to uncover this information and whom might be a witness at hearing; and

 

  • Recommendations on how to move a case toward settlement. This includes information concerning the timing of an independent medical examination or independent vocational evaluation.

 

 

Medicare Secondary Payer Compliance

 

Medicare Secondary Payer compliance is an important part of any workers’ compensation claim analysis.  This includes recommendations on the following topics:

 

  • Whether a service provider should be utilized to prepare a Medicare Set-aside allocation;

 

  • If the Medicare Set-aside should be included for review and approval under the voluntary CMS process; and

 

  • Matters concerning conditional payment identification and repayment.

 

 

Conclusions

 

The wants of a workers’ compensation claims handler are quite simple.  They expect professionalism and responsive defense counsel to assist them on all claims.  While the defense attorney might not have all the answers, they need to assist the claims handler in discovering the information and reporting on it timely.  This also includes a reasonable analysis, while being a zealous advocate.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

The Reality of the Biggest Myth Regarding Your Third Party Administrator

The Reality of the Biggest Myth Regarding Your Third Party AdministratorMYTH: The best way to reduce workers’ compensation costs is to change insurance companies or TPAs.

 

REALITY: Wrong! The best way to reduce workers compensation costs is to build a better relationship with your current claims administrator. The major cause of discontent between carriers and the insureds is lack of communication which causes a perception that something is being done improperly.

 

For example, in several situations a company believed nurse case management was too expensive; however, upon audit by our medical advisor, the nurse case management service should be used MORE, HOWEVER should be brought in earlier.

 

It wasn’t effective when it was used (thus seemed expensive and wasteful) because it was used too late in the process.

 

 

3 Ideas to Build a Better TPA Relationship

 

  • Start to build a better relationship by becoming more informed about the services your claims administrator offers. Hold a Vendor Day, and invite your TPA in with every one of their services – leave none out. Ask for samples of reports and deliverables so you can understand the product and will know when to request services. Have them bring brochures prior to Vendor Day, and read the brochures so you can ask knowledgeable questions during about the services.

 

  • Visit one or two claims offices, sit chair-side and observe the process. Learn the categories of desks at your carrier, for example, are there 4 levels of adjusters or 5? Do adjusters have backup and clerical support to get medical files or close files? Sit at the intake desk, then join the lost time and medical adjusters for a few minutes at their desks. Ask to see what happens to medical bills when they enter the system until the time they are paid and filed. This will give you a better understanding of how you can interact more effectively, what information adjusters need from you and what information you can provide about your workplace and employees.

 

  • Invite your adjusters to visit your workplace, so they know what your company does, the types of jobs and skills required of the employees. They can then visualize exactly how an injury occurred easier than if they’d never been to your work place. They can see the possible transitional duty tasks, and perhaps suggest a few more. They can even have coffee in the lunch room and be introduced to a few employees who come in. Make them feel like part of the team.

 

There are times when switching TPAs is the right decision.  However, try working out the problems FIRST, or you may end up with the same grass in a different pasture.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Maximize Your Third Party Administrator (TPA) Relationship With A Vendor Day

Maximize Your Third Party Administrator (TPA) Relationship With A Vendor DayIf your company is a large organization with many locations and numerous open claims at each location, you may need to consider having several return-to-work (RTW) coordinators. Have one RTW coordinator for each region. For example, one large company has East, Mid-West and Western Region coordinators. The number of coordinators depends on your claims volume, making sure each coordinator has enough claims to justify a full-time position while ensuring they are not overloaded and unable to follow-up on each claim.

 

Coordinators do not do the work of adjusters, but facilitate transitional duty and guide location management.

 

 

Understand What Your Third-party Administrator (TPA) Provides

 

Start your program with a Vendor Day.  Look at the capabilities and services provided by your claims administrator; regardless of whether it is an insurance company or a TPA, you need to know all of their capabilities in detail.

 

Have the claims administrator describe each of their services – a formal presentation; have your TPA come to your office to introduce’ and explain each service. Ask them to bring examples of each report. For instance, ask to see a sample nurse case management report, or an investigators report. Make sure you clearly state your expectations. You want the practice leader or a person who can explain everything about the services to attend.

 

Include all services: medical cost containment, medical management, investigative, recovery, and risk management information systems.

 

  • To prepare for Vendor Day, gather all literature from the claims administrator — have all sales brochures sent to you advance — and review the response to request for proposal (RFP) if the claims administrator was selected through the RFP Process.

 

  • Familiarize yourself with each available service, learn its name and find out how much it costs. For example, is a nurse case manager a telephonic nurse case manager or a field-based case manager who will attend medical visits with the injured employees?

 

  • Ask lots of questions.Is the case manager’ an RN, an LPN, or a non-licensed person with internal medical training? Before you can determine how effectively a service is delivered, learn the specifics of each service.

 

Companies often start the workers’ compensation correction process by selecting a new TPA without even knowing they are not using all of the services of their current TPA. For example, a major carrier has nurses who will go to each unit to help identify transitional duty jobs, yet their client was unaware of this service and its benefits. They didn’t know what they didn’t know.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

11 Ways to Manage Employer, Provider, and Employee Fraud in Workers’ Compensation

11 Ways to Manage Employer, Provider, and Employee Fraud in Workers’ Compensation Workers’ compensation fraud by workers gets the most publicity. But additional fraud is committed by staffing companies, professional employer organizations, medical and ancillary service providers, and brokers.

 

Sometimes multiple parties are involved, as in the case in California involving an alleged $40 million medical billing and kickback operation that involved more than two dozen physicians, pharmacists, and business owners.

 

Here are also some simple preventive measures that could potentially save companies mega dollars.

 

 

11 Ways to Manage Employer, Provider, and Employee Fraud

 

  1. Educate the workforce. Explain to employees that workers’ compensation fraud hurts the whole company and the loss of revenue may threaten upcoming pay raises or even their jobs. They also need to be informed that fraud is a serious crime with penalties. They should have a way to report suspected fraud anonymously.
  2. Teach the higher-ups. Managers and supervisors should understand that every reported injury should be treated as legitimate; however, they should also be taught to recognize some of the red flags that may indicate a fraudulent claim and have a procedure for reporting them. They also need to know how to take statements about an injury — from the worker and any witnesses.
  3. Work with the insurer. Report all suspicious claims immediately.
  4. Investigate ASAP. Make sure all reported injuries and illnesses are immediately and thoroughly investigated.
  5. Pay careful attention throughout the claims process to see if any information changes or doesn’t make sense about the injury. Also, note whether the injured employee was disgruntled prior to the injury.
  6. Drug tests. Require drug testing as a condition of employment. Drug users are statistically more likely to file fraudulent workers’ compensation claims than non-users.
  7. Implement a zero tolerance policy for fraud and take every action possible to expose and prosecute it.
  8. Make examples of cheaters. Whether it is a worker, provider or someone else involved in the process, all participants should see that you will take all steps necessary to fight fraud.
  9. Evidence Based Medicine (EBM). Make sure all treatment follows evidence based treatment guidelines and do not allow claims handlers to authorize treatment unless they have been trained in EBM
  10. Clean the provider network. Vet providers before allowing them into the medical network. Verify their physical location and try to determine if they own the clinic. Where possible, remove from your network any provider who has been accused of fraud.
  11. Involve workers. Regularly send out notices to injured workers with the dates and types of treatment that has been billed and ask them to report discrepancies.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Fraud costs companies billions of dollars. The money lost is passed on — in the form of higher premiums, increased prices for services, or lower money available to pay employees or expand the business.

 

Instead of turning a blind eye to the situation, organizations should adopt a zero-tolerance policy for fraud, educate all involved and enforce rules and regulations to expose the guilty parties and deter it from happening again.

 

See also: Be Aware of Employer, Provider, and Employee Fraud in Workers’ Compensation

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Be Aware of Employer, Provider, and Employee Fraud in Workers’ Compensation

Be aware of Provider, Employer, and Employee Fraud in Workers' CompensationWorkers’ compensation fraud costs the insurance industry an estimated $7 billion per year. Not only is it employee fraud, but employer and provider fraud can be just as, or even more expensive. Recent stories out of California, for example, revealed an alleged $40 million medical billing and kickback operation that involved more than two dozen physicians, pharmacists, and business owners.

 

Often the expense and time involved makes organizations reluctant to pursue fraud charges against offending parties. But being aware of the many ways fraud is perpetuated is key to preventing it. There are also some simple preventive measures that could potentially save companies mega dollars.

 

 

Types of Fraud

 

Employer Fraud 

 

Companies may misrepresent the nature of the business, or misclassify the types of jobs, number of employees or payroll to get lower premiums. They may hide premium scams behind dummy corporations. Or they may not even have workers’ compensation insurance, creating an unfair playing field for their market.

 

Here are some red flags that may indicate fraud by an employer:

 

  • The address. If a post office box is used or the company is located in an area different from its mailing address.
  • Workers are paid in cash with no payroll stub. Or, paid with in-kind services, such as free rent.
  • Too many admins. The number of clerical employees is significantly higher than the number of non-clerical staff for the type of business.
  • The company has not been audited.
  • Multi-businesses. The company has several businesses operating from the same address.
  • The name. The company’s name is inconsistent with the type of work done.
  • Too many independents. There is an excessive number of independent contractor classifications. The employer may require new employees to fill out a 1099 instead of a W-2.
  • Low bids. Estimated prices for projects are substantially lower than the industry standard.

 

 

Provider Fraud

 

Bills for unnecessary or nonexistent medical services have garnered media attention in recent years. In some cases, physicians team up with attorneys to commit workers’ compensation fraud. They may exaggerate the severity of injuries that do occur and bill payers for what would be the ‘appropriate’ type and number of treatments for the conditions.

 

In some scams, clinics and attorneys hire people to lure workers who may or may not even be aware something untoward is happening. In other cases, a ‘clinic’ may exist only on paper, or is just an office with little equipment. Then there are medical providers who game both the workers’ compensation and group health systems by billing both for the same treatment.

 

There are some red flags that may indicate provider fraud is taking place.

 

  • Questionable bills. The payer is billed for a treatment the injured worker does not recall.
  • Weekend bills. Invoices are received for services performed on weekends or holidays.
  • Bad timing. Provider sends bills for treatments after the injured worker has gone to a different provider.
  • Reports too alike. Medical reports appear nearly identical for different patients and conditions.
  • Questionable treatment. The type and length of treatment is not in sync with the type and seriousness of the reported injury.
  • Reporting delays. There are unexplained lags in receiving requested records.
  • Attorney closeness. The provider works with the same lawyer repeatedly on questionable claims.

 

 

Worker Fraud

 

Reporting an injury on a Monday morning or after a holiday are two of the biggest red flags that indicate something may be amiss with a claim. Other indications that an injury may be fraudulent include the following:

  • The worker is new, seasonal or contractual and/or has a history of short-term employment.
  • Early attorney involvement. The worker has a lawyer as soon as the injury is reported.
  • Changing situation. The employee is faced with possible termination or layoff.
  • Funny facts. The description of the accident does not make sense with the reported injury.
  • No witnesses. The worker was alone when the injury occurred.
  • The worker is resentful.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Fraud costs companies billions of dollars. The money lost is passed on — in the form of higher premiums, increased prices for services, or lower money available to pay employees or expand the business.

 

See Also11 Ways to Manage Employer, Provider, and Employee Fraud in Workers’ Compensation

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

How to Tell If You Need a Nurse Case Manager for Your Workers Compensation Claim

How to Tell When You Need at Nurse Case ManagerNurse case managers (NCMs) coordinate medical care and determine extent of disability.  However, there are times when the NCM doesn’t serve a specific purpose and is assigned to the claim to get the claim moving.  At times, NCM’s are used to do some of the tasks adjusters are supposed to do. Your job is to clarify when nurse case management is warranted and useful.

 

The injury coordinator can evaluate these aspects of both telephonic case management and field-based case management first of all by emailing the adjuster and stating the above.

 

Also, the injury coordinator should know whether your NCM is an RN or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). You should be charged less for a LPN or a NCM with less experience or fewer credentials.

 

  • Require the NCM to provide you with frequent updates. If you review the insurer’s file notes online and do not see NCM notes, contact the NCM to provide an update.
  • Ask your third party administrator or adjuster to work with you to determine when the use of nurses serves to resolve claims quickly and ensures good quality medical care for the employees.

 

 

Ask the following:

 

  • Do you have any suggestions of when we should use nurses, what types of claims?
  • Can we get a list of all claims which have NCM assigned?
  • Shall we touch base about this on our regular risk management conference call?

 

 

Make use of a Nurse Case Manager:

 

  1. In complex cases with multiple provider coordination.
  2. In new lost-time claims if the length of time out of work is disproportionate to the injury.
  3. When an employee is missing medical appointments.
  4. When surgery, including arthroscopy, is anticipated.
  5. For all hospitalizations.
  6. If there is diagnostic testing including MRIs, CAT scans, or myelograms.
  7. For severe injuries including: severe eye injuries, severs lacerations, back and knee injuries, cumulative trauma cases and severe sprains, strains or dislocations.
  8. And remember:  Not all nurse case managers are equally effective. If your assigned NCM is not effective, ask for a replacement.

 

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

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