Selection Criteria for New Third Party Administrator (TPA)

third party administratorWhether you are just starting your self-insured claims program or have decided it is time for a switch to a new third party administrator (TPA), the selection of the new TPA is one of the most important decisions you can make in the administration of your self-insured program.

 

Employers switching TPAs often ask questions of potential new TPA partners that address the issues they have had with their current TPA. Employers frequently make the mistake of not asking the new potential TPA partner about areas where the current TPA performs well.

 

 

Areas that need to be explored with all potential TPAs before selecting the next TPA include:

 

  • Obtaining a copy of the TPA’s Best Practices to confirm their claim handling standards
  • Obtaining a list of the current clients and former clients to contact for their impression of the TPA’s abilities
  • Verifying the TPA has a claims office in each state where you have business locations
  • In large states, verifying the claims office(s) are located near your business locations
  • Verifying the TPA will assign dedicated adjusters to your account in areas where your claim volume is large enough to occupy all of one or more adjusters, and will assign a designated adjuster to handle all claims in locations where you have inadequate claim volume to keep one adjuster busy
  • Determining the claim reserving authority the adjusters will have
  • Determining the claim settlement authority the adjusters will have
  • Confirming the experience level of each of the dedicated or designated adjusters
  • Determining the frequency of the claim file reviews by the claim supervisors and the extent of the directions and guidance provided by the supervisors
  • Confirming the licensing of each adjuster and each claims office
  • Establishing the claims intake process
  • Establishing the maximum number of claims that will be assigned to each adjuster
  • Establishing who the legal defense firm(s) will be when defense counsel is needed
  • Establishing who the medical triage company will be
  • Establishing who the medical management company will be when medical management is needed
  • Establishing who the pharmacy benefit manager will be
  • Establishing who will provide the medical fee schedule reviews
  • Determining the capabilities of the claims management system used by the TPA
  • Determining whether your claims management system can be integrated with the claims management system of the TPA and who will be responsible for maintaining the systems integration
  • Verifying that the TPAs claim management system will be able to provide all the data and claim management reports needed to manage your claims programs
  • Determining who will be responsible for correction of data errors that occur
  • Determining the security measures the TPA will take to protect the confidentiality of your data and financial information
  • Determining the nature and extent of the financial data available on each claim file
  • Determining if the TPA data system will allow the creation of ad hoc reports
  • Verifying the TPA will allow annual independent claim file audits to verify compliance with Best Practices including the prevention of claim leakage

 

 

This list provides just some of the areas that need to be considered when selecting a new TPA. By addressing these issues during the TPA selection process, further problems with the new TPA can be reduced, if not eliminated.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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/

 

©2019 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.

Tips to Get the Most from Your Workers’ Comp Adjuster

 

Hey there, Michael Stack here with Amaxx. So Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers that are out there. Hopefully you had a lovely celebration over this past weekend celebrating Mother’s Day. We certainly did for my wife, the mother of my four children. We did coffee and pancakes in bed and taken out to a really nice lunch. We had a really lovely day, and hopefully it was the same for you or your mother as well.

 

But it got me thinking about this sort of this day of demonstration of gratitude for mothers and how really for the amount of work that they do, one day is just not enough. It pales in comparison to demonstrating that gratitude. It needs to be delivered on a regular basis.

 

 

Gratitude for Your Workers’ Comp Adjuster

 

And it got me thinking about this other group, sort of this other role within the work comp industry that’s the same way that doesn’t get even a day at all, and that’s your adjusters. For the amount of work that your adjusters do on a day in, day out basis, the importance of their role within the work comp industry, the amount of gratitude that they get is very, very low. There are no pancakes delivered to them in bed, there’s no taking them out to lunch to have a lovely day.

 

So two things I want to talk about and focus on getting the most out of these adjuster relationships in today’s video. First one is demonstrating gratitude. How to demonstrate gratitude and the second thing is about how to set these up. How to set up these adjuster relationships.

 

So very simple, when I talk about gratitude you’re asking your adjuster for a thousand different things every day. Send me this form, send me this recorded statement, I need this, I need this, did you do the investigation, did you the three-point contact, what was this, blah, blah, blah, and it’s coming out in rapid fire all day long via phone, email and now often times text messages. So all these different places that they’re getting demands to respond to regularly.

 

 

Say Please & Thank You

 

Say please, say thank you to your adjuster. May I please have that investigation report? Can you please send me that witness statement? Whatever it is that you’re asking your adjuster, and when they send it to you, say thank you. Say thank you. This is a lost art within our world today. Don’t just apply this to adjusters, apply it to your regular daily life.

 

We have gotten to be so bold in the way that we interact with people that this has been forgotten. Very simple, very necessary, and it’s going to demonstrate a little bit more of that gratitude for your adjusters. And oh, by the way, maybe take them to lunch every once in a while too. They always like that.

 

Second thing is I want to talk about your set up within your account handling instructions. So when you set this up when you’re with your TPA when you’re with your carrier, if you’ve been with them for a long time it’s worth revisiting definitely at least on an annual basis. But a lot of time we like to talk about your account instructions as a living document, something that you can alter or change as necessary throughout the course of your claims handling relationship.

 

 

Set-Up In Workers’ Comp Account Handling Instructions

 

So let’s talk about the set up. Couple of things that I want you to look for in your account instructions when you’re initially setting it up or if you’ve been with them for a while to potentially modify.

 

 

Dedicated vs Designated Adjuster

 

So you can have a dedicated versus a designated adjuster. Now this is about how to set this up as far as who is serving you and what it costs. So who is serving you and what it costs. So dedicated versus designated, I want you to look at their case loads and I want you to look at their experience.

 

So what type of adjuster, who is that individual who is going to be assigned to your case? Again, in your instructions as you’re setting this up or as you’re potentially modifying it on an annual basis.

 

A dedicated adjuster is one that only works directly for you. So you work with Jane Smith, Jane’s your go to girl. She’s there handling all of your cases, or Jane and John if you’ve got more than one. Designated means that Jane or John works only for you, but they also work for XYZ Company as well.

 

You can develop a relationship. We talk about having your adjuster so much as being this key part of your team, demonstrating them gratitude, bringing them along, really having them as a main cog in your wheel. Setting up these relationships is a great way to do this. You could spend more money on a designated or dedicated adjuster. It’s going to cost you more out of the gates, but it can save you a huge amount.

 

 

Adjuster Case Loads

 

Same thing as we’re looking at these case loads. So adjusters with lower case loads do a better job. Adjusters with lower case loads do a better job. You don’t need a lot of research to figure that one out. It’s just common sense. If you’re handling 50 cases versus 500 cases, you’re going to do a better job on the 50 then you are going to do trying to handle the 500.

 

So one little quick tip here, this is something that you can define within your instructions. Also, do they have an admin support? So does your adjuster have administrative support? They can have a higher case load and do an equally good of a job if they have an admin support helping them to process a lot of that paperwork.

 

So something to think about and look at and ask your carrier, ask your TPA if this is an option and then look at those outcomes of how you can really best set that up.

 

 

Adjuster Experience Level

 

Then your experience level, do they have five years, do they have ten plus years of experience? You can negotiate this in your contract. You can negotiate I want my adjusters to have ten years plus experience, or I want them to have ten years plus experiences on these certain types of cases, the lost time cases, the catastrophic cases, whatever it is. You can define that.

 

Another thing you might want to do is if you look at this and they say, “Sure we can that but it’s going to cost you action.” You kind of choke up on that amount. You could say, “We want a mix step. We want ten years plus experience to be working with some of the newbie adjusters on those medical only files so that they have that supervision, they can deliver those outcomes.”

 

So all different things to look at and think about as you’re setting up these adjuster relationships. Once you do, then show them that gratitude. Bring them that coffee in bed. Take them to lunch. Show them that gratitude for the work that they’re doing. When you do, they’re going to deliver much better outcomes.

 

Again, my name is Michael Stack. I’m the CEO of Amaxx, and remember your work today in worker’s compensation can have a dramatic impact on your company’s bottom line. But it will have a dramatic impact on someone’s life.

 

So be great.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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: https://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2019 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.

 

Seven Sections of Documentation For A Properly Organized Workers’ Comp Claim File

Seven Sections of Documentation For A Properly Organized Workers' Comp Claim FileThe workers’ compensation claim file should have Seven Sections of documentation that relates to the claim in a properly organized manner.

 

 

1- Claim Investigation:

 

The claim investigation section of the file should contain the adjusters claim file notes on everything that has occurred during the entire course of the claim. This includes a summary of each telephone call and a summary of all medical reports, state forms, letters, attorney reports, etc.

 

The claim investigation section should also contain either the transcript of the employees recorded statement or the claim file notes should contain a detailed review of the employees recorded statement. If a recorded statement was not obtained, the details of the employee’s initial interview should be summarized in the claim file notes. The claim investigation section should also include the employer’s supervisors recorded statement or a detailed review of the supervisor’s version of the accident.

 

A copy of the Employers First Report of Injury should be included in the claim investigation section for a comparison of the claimants version of the accident with the insured’s version of the accident.

 

When there is the potential for subrogation, for example – injuries involving an automobile accident or injuries involving a machine malfunction, documentation to support the subrogation should be included in the file investigation. This can include anything from a police report to a mechanical engineers evaluation of the machine that malfunctioned.

 

If there is a question of compensability or subrogation, the claim investigation section of the claim file should also include the recorded statement of witnesses or others who have detailed knowledge of the accident or occurrence.

 

If the claim lingers and there is a question of malingering by the employee, the claim investigation section will also contain the surveillance reports on the employee.

 

 

2- Medical Documentation:

 

The medical documentation section of the claim file should be divided into two categories, medical bills, and medical reports. Each of these two areas should be further divided into medical providers, with all medical bills by each medical provider grouped by date of service, and all medical reports by each medical provider grouped by the date of service.

 

Miscellaneous medical documentation – ambulance bills, prescriptions, durable medical equipment, etc., should be grouped by the category and organized chronologically.

 

 

3- Indemnity Documentation:

 

The employer’s wage statement reflecting the total compensation (over the state determined pre-injury period for benefits calculations) should be clearly identified in the claim file. Attached to the wage statement should be the calculations used to determine the temporary total disability benefit. If the disability benefit rate for permanent partial disability or permanent total disability is different from the disability rate for temporary total disability, the calculations used to determine the permanent partial disability or the permanent total disability rate should be shown.

 

Any documentation submitted by the employee to claim a higher rate of indemnity benefits should also be included in this section. This could include W-2 forms, copies of previous bonus checks or commission checks, etc.

 

 

4- State Forms:

 

A copy of every form submitted to the state by the employer, the employee or the insurance company should be included in this section of the claim file. State forms can be organized either numerically by the state form number, alphabetically by the state form name or chronologically by the date the state form was submitted to the workers’ compensation commission/bureau/agency/department, etc.

 

 

5- Hearings & Legal:

 

If any party requests a hearing, trial or other legal determination of benefits, this section would contain the documentation of the legal proceeding. This can include petitions for benefits, request for hearings, discovery documents and transcripts of depositions or transcripts of hearings.

 

This section of the claim file should also contain all correspondence between the work comp adjuster and the employee’s attorney, all correspondence between the work comp adjuster and the defense attorney, and all correspondence between the employee’s attorney and the defense attorney. If outside experts have been brought into the claim, the correspondence between the outside experts and any other party would be included in this section of the claim file.

 

 

6- Medical Management:

 

The medical management section of the claim file should include all correspondence and communications between the triage nurse and any other party. It should all obtain all reports, correspondence and communications between a nurse case manager assigned to assist the employee and any other party.

 

 

7- Vocational Rehabilitation:

 

The vocational rehabilitation section of the claim file will contain all the reports and activities of the vocational counselor assigned to the employee. This can include a broad range of information from vocational testing results, to available jobs in the community, to vocational retraining of the employee.

 

 

Summary:

 

The properly organized workers’ compensation claim file will prevent mistakes in the claim handling. It will also reduce the amount of time the adjuster works on the claim file by eliminating time spent searching for specific information. When the claim file is complete and well organized, everyone – employee, employer and insurer – benefit by having all aspects of the claim handled and concluded timely and properly.

 

 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:.

Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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

 

©2018 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: https://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: https://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.

What Is The Claim Handling Score At Your TPA?

claim-handling-scoreEmployers often wonder if they are getting quality claim handling on their workers’ compensation claims.  At the same time, the third party administrators (TPA) providing claim services to employers often struggle with producing a quality product due to the facts and circumstances of each claim being different.

 

 

 

Top-Tier TPAs Evaluate Every File for Claim Quality

 

Each TPA will have a set of Best Practices stating what is expected on every claim.  A top-tier TPA will not only have the written set of Best Practices, they will evaluate the adjuster’s claim quality using both performance measurements and diagnostic indicators to evaluate the adjuster’s performance.

 

As every activity of the adjuster on the claim file is recorded in the electronic notes of the computer file, it is simply a matter of data mining to determine if the adjuster is complying with the established Best Practices.  When the workers’ compensation adjuster enters a new file note, the date and time is automatically recorded.  Each file note has two drop-down selection codes, one for type of activity being completed and one for the type of person contacted – employee, employer, medical provider, employee’s attorney, defense attorney, etc.  After the note is coded, the actual details of what was accomplished are entered.  For example: “Requested Dr. Smith’s office to email us the office visit notes.”

 

With all this data, the grading and evaluating of the adjuster’s performance becomes highly measurable.  To prevent ‘gaming’ of the system, the TPA will have internal auditors reviewing select files, or with some top-tier TPAs all files, to insure accuracy of what is recorded in the system.  For example, if the adjuster coded the file note ‘contact – employee’, but the details of the file note reflect only left a voice mail, the proper coding should have been ‘attempted contact – employee’, and the file note coding can be corrected.

 

 

 

Areas of Evaluation

 

The areas of quality evaluated and graded through performance measurement include:

 

  • Initial employee contact within 24 hours

 

  • Initial employer contact within 24 hours

 

  • Initial medical provider contact within 24 hours

 

  • Initial reserve within 72 hours

 

  • Reserve review with 30 days

 

  • Initial report to client within 14 days

 

  • Status reports to client every 30 days, or as previously indicated in a prior report

 

 

The areas of quality evaluated and graded through diagnostic indicators include:

 

  • File on diary

 

  • Proper completion of claim progress notes

 

  • Reserve worksheet to support reserve changes

 

  • Timely ISO filing

 

  • Timely supplemental ISO filings

 

  • Payments made on closed files

 

With all the data generated, the computer program calculates the adjuster’s performance.  The computer program can be set to select only indemnity claims or it can include all claims.  The computer identifies all claims reported within the reporting month (normally a calendar month, but data can also be compiled on any 30 day period).  For example:  The computer identifies all indemnity claims assigned to Adjuster Jones during July, it reviews all data for the claims that had initial employee contact within 24 hour, and calculates the percentage of claims where the employee was contacted within 24 hours of the initial report of the claim.

 

The computer program completes the calculation for each of the performance measurements and diagnostic indicators and assigns a numerical percentage score to each category.  The computer combines all the categories into a numerical score for each adjuster to provide the TPA management a quality score for each adjuster.

 

 

Claim Quality Scores are Invaluable Tool for TPA

 

The quality scores compiled by the TPA are an invaluable tool that can be used for several different purposes. The score results can be used as:

 

  • A component of the adjuster’s semi-annual or annual performance review

 

  • A promotional tool to sell the TPA services

 

  • A motivational tool to encourage the adjusters to perform at their maximum

 

  • A way to encourage friendly, internal competition in each office to see which adjuster can provide the highest level of service

 

In addition to building adjuster’s pride by scoring well, some TPAs offer bonuses for top scores or a bonus to everyone who exceeds a predetermined mark.  For example – $100 monthly bonus for a score of 95% or higher, or a $500 annual bonus for averaging 97% or higher for the entire year.  Other prizes can be offered for the most improvement, the highest overall performance, etc.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 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.

 

Items To Consider When Valuing Catastrophic Work Comp Claims

Catastrophic injury claims make up less than 1% of all workers compensation claims, but different studies show they entail approximately 20% of all workers comp costs.  For the small employer, one catastrophic injury claim can distort the severity factor in the workers comp premium calculations and have a major impact on the workers compensation premiums for years into the future.

 

 

Catastrophic Injuries Significantly Alter Employee’s Life

 

Catastrophic injuries are injuries that disable the employee to the extent the employee can never return to work and significantly alters the employee’s life in general. Common examples of catastrophic injuries are:

 

 

  • Brain/brain stem injuries.
  • Severe burns over 50 % or more of the body.
  • Spinal cord injuries.
  • Multiple amputations.
  • Multiple trauma.
  • Total vision loss.
  • Occupational lung diseases.

 

 

The eventual cost of a catastrophic injury is very difficult to establish early in the life of the claim. Even the experienced adjuster does not have a crystal ball to determine if the overall cost of the claim is going to be $500,000 or $5 million when establishing the initial reserves on the claim. With catastrophic claims, as additional medical and rehabilitation information becomes available, the reserves are often adjusted by large amounts (6 figures or more) several years into the claim.

 

 

To establish the value of the catastrophic injury claim, there are various factors the adjuster considers. While it is the adjuster’s responsibility to establish the reserve, the smart risk manager does not leave it all up to the adjuster. It behooves the employer to review the factors that go into reserving to be sure the adjuster is setting the proper reserve and not taking the easy way out by reserving a nice round number like $1 million.

 

 

The factors that go into establishing the value of the catastrophic injury claims can be divided into the three areas: indemnity, medical, and claim related expenses. Look for vendors specializing in Life Care Planning.

 

Lifetime cost of the indemnity includes:

 

  • The employee’s average weekly wage and weekly indemnity benefit.
  • The time span of the indemnity; does it last for a set number of weeks, (500 weeks), as it does in about half of the states, or does it last a lifetime, or to a set cut off point in the retirement years?
  • The employee’s age and projected life span on the actuarial tables.
  • Does the indemnity rate remain the same for permanent total disability as for temporary total disability, or does the compensation rate change?
  • What is the amount of the offset for social security disability?

 

 

Medical factors in establishing the value of the claim: 

 

  • The cost of immediate medical care following the injury.
  • The cost of surgical interventions in the first years following the injury.
  • The on-going cost of medical care on an annual basis after the medical status is stabilized.
  • The cost of modifications to the employee’s home and current and future vehicles.
  • The cost of institutional medical care.
  • The cost of durable medical equipment (wheelchairs, artificial limbs, hospital beds, oxygen tents, etc.).

 

 

Claim handling expenses for catastrophic claims:

 

  • Nurse case managers.
  • Rehabilitation specialist.
  • Defense attorneys.
  • Actuarial experts.

 

 

The above items impacting the value of the catastrophic claim are not the only factors to consider when establishing the future claim cost. If the insurance company decides to settle the catastrophic workers comp claim, they work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to obtain approval of the Medicare Set Aside Agreement (MSA). The value of the settlement has to be high enough that the claimant (in theory) never has any future medical cost paid by CMS.

 

 

Another factor impacting the value of the catastrophic injury claim is the availability, in some states, of a Subsequent Injury Trust Fund to cover part of the future cost of the claim.  Also consider whether or not the insurance company can resolve the claim with a structured settlement and of the future cost of the claim being sold to another insurance company.

 

 

While it is possible to calculate the value of the catastrophic injury claim, keep in mind a catastrophic injury is a major life altering event for the employee. The catastrophic injury impacts almost every area of the employee’s life and family. It is a personal tragedy far beyond the financial cost of the claim.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 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.

 

Is A Pre-Existing Condition In Play?

When the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land, the term “pre-existing condition” was often used.

 

For the workers compensation industry, that same term is not all that uncommon. In fact, it can be used quite often. Take the following scenario:

 

Following a work-related incident, a good employer makes sure that his or her injured employee is seen by medical professionals; often more than a single type; and often over an extended period of time.

 

Since it is not uncommon for individuals to hold off going to the doctor for symptoms they are experiencing, there are times a condition is initially diagnosed after one is injured on the job.

 

 

More Than Meets the Eye

 

For example, an MRI after a head injury could in fact diagnose a tumor – clearly the tumor is not a result of the work accident and, therefore, not tied to the obligation of your workers comp program.

 

When a company’s medical advisor goes over the file and speaks to the employee’s treating specialist, the two doctors can talk over the medical issues peer-to-peer. The result is very credible evidence the injury is or is not tied to what has happened in the workplace.

 

Use the following tips in your email communication:

 

  • Make sure you include a claim number and all relevant addresses and contact information on the letter.
  • Explain the company’s medical advisor has gone over the employee’s medical records.
  • Explain the accident along with the recently diagnosed condition.
  • Demonstrate how physicians came to the conclusion that one is not the result of the other.
  • Make the adjustor aware of these physicians’ findings and that they will arrive soon.
  • Explain you will make contact with the adjustor once they have time to go over the notes to be sure you have proper evidence to turn down the claim.

 

One of the leading causes of litigation is the denial of a claim.  Anytime a claim is going to be denied, communication with the injured worker is critical for the individual to understand the reasons and documentation behind the denial.

 

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, and founder of COMPClub an interactive training program teaching workers’ comp cost containment best practices.  Through this platform he is in the trenches on a monthly basis with risk managers, brokers, consultants, attorney’s, and adjusters teaching timeless workers’ comp cost containment strategies, as well as working with members to develop new tactics and systems to address the issues facing organizations today. This unique position allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Selecting Right Claims Aministration Partner Critical To Sustaining Financial Responsibility

In most states,  employers  who have over five employees are required to insure workers who may be injured on the job. This article may help you determine the best partner to choose and best administrative practices to employ under your policy.

 

Depending on the policy, you will be partnering either with an insurance adjuster or a third-party administrator (TPA) to handle your claims.

 

Claims administration involves the following: payments of benefits and medical bills; processing of claims within state guidelines; file auditing, documentation and reporting; and negotiating claims settlements. Choosing a poor administrator may erase all savings gained from the best safety and return-to-work efforts.

 

Hopefully the following hints will help you develop a long and rewarding relationship with your claims administrator.

 

  1. Claims Office… The administrator should be located in your state or have adjusters familiar with your state’s workers’ compensation laws. Visit the claims office. Nothing compares to “seeing” an efficient operation.
  2. Claims Adjusters… These individuals must be very well trained and highly experienced. Case Load… The average case load is about 165; more than this historically leads to poor performance.
  3. Dedicated Adjuster… This is preferable. If this is not possible, obtain a designated adjuster who works only on a designated group of employer claims.
  4. Three-Point Contact… Ensure this is done with each claimant (a call to the patient, employer and medical provider).
  5. Medical Management Services… Make sure these are available and pre-arrange pricing.
  6. Medical Specialists… A good administrator will have access to a range of medical professionals. Ask for the list.
  7. Investigative Services… Administrators should have established relationships with investigators who use technology and proper reporting for your state.
  8. Attorney Selection… Your administrator should choose an attorney for litigated claims that allows for the most control over the file.
  9. Risk Management Services… Up to date IT systems are a must.
  10. .. Claim detail and customized reports are essential to accurately manage a claim. Every policy holder has different needs.
  11. Settlement Authority… Ensure that you have input regarding settlement amounts being considered.
  12. Claim File Review… Arrange a claim review meeting on a quarterly basis.
  13. Quality Control… The administrator should be continuously training and providing educational opportunities. Be sure internal quality measures are in place within the administrator’s office. This helps ensure quality outcomes.
  14. Process Documentation… Take the time to write directives that document your account management procedures. They are a guidebook to a fruitful accord.
  15. Evaluate and Measure… Periodically rate your administrator. You should be quickly receiving claims, accurate reserve adjustments, timely inquiry responses, prompt bill payment history and (hopefully) a low litigation rate.

 

According to Bonnie Stephens, a case manager for Medcor at the San Diego Zoological Society, “The selection of your Claims Management Partner is vitally important, not only to the efficiency in claims handling and resolution, but also, when performed using best practices, the right selection can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical payments, lost time and litigation costs.”

 

 

 

Author: Ben Petersen co-founded Medcor in 1984 and serves as the company’s chief operating officer. Since Medcor’s inception, Ben has led Medcor’s overall operations including hiring and training staff, developing scalable systems, managing logistics, and creating the infrastructure to provide health services for Medcor’s multiple service lines in all 50 states. http://medcor.com.

Small Percent Of Claims Create Large Percent Of Costs

Twenty percent of all workers’ compensation cost is incurred on less than one percent of the claims.  These high dollar claims are often referred to as catastrophic claims.  The term ‘catastrophic claim’ applies to the nature of the claim, not the dollar cost, even though the severe nature of the claim and the high dollar cost are closely related.

 

 

Catastrophic Claims Create Permanent Disability

 

A catastrophic claim is defined as any claim that creates a high level of permanent disability.  Catastrophic injuries significantly alter the life of the employee in general. Catastrophic injuries prevent the employee from returning to any type of work, even when occupational therapy and vocational rehabilitation is provided.  Examples of catastrophic claims include:

 

  • Quadriplegia
  • Paraplegia
  • Brain/brain stem injuries
  • Second and/or third degree burns over 50% of more of the body
  • Death
  • Total vision loss
  • Multiple amputations
  • Mesothelioma, asbestosis and other lung diseases
  • Severe damage to internal organs

 

Almost all catastrophic claims result in the employee being classified by workers’ compensation as having permanent total disability.  The cost of the catastrophic claim will be influenced by the state laws.  While all states provide unlimited medical treatment, the indemnity cost can vary widely. Some state provide life time indemnity benefits while other states will cap the indemnity benefits at a maximum number of weeks, often 400 weeks or 500 weeks.

 

 

Employee Income Prior To Injury Is Major Factor

 

A major factor in the cost of catastrophic claims is the income of the employee prior to the injury.  The higher the wages of the employee prior to the injury, the higher the indemnity cost.  For example, the catastrophic claim indemnity payments of an employee who was earning $600 a week would be double the indemnity payments of an employee who was earning $300 a week.

 

The employee’s life expectancy will also impact the cost of a catastrophic claim.  If the employee is 30 years old when the catastrophic injury occurs, the amount of future medical bills, and indemnity cost in a state with lifetime indemnity benefits, will be significantly higher than the cost of the same type injury to an employee who is 60 years old, simply due to the longer number of years the benefits will be paid.

 

In addition to the high cost of medical care and the high cost of indemnity benefits, the claim handling expenses can be significant on catastrophic claims.  The expense factors can include:

 

  • Nurse case managers
  • Rehabilitation specialists
  • Actuarial experts
  • Remodeling of the home to make it handicap accessible
  • Home attendants
  • Defense attorneys
  • Specialized equipment

 

 

Catastrophic Claims Often Resolved With Structured Settlement

 

 

Due to the high cost of catastrophic claims, the claims are often resolved with a structured settlement, a type of life time annuity that the workers’ compensation insurance company purchases to make periodic future payments.  This often benefits the injured employee by providing the employee with a higher level of income, or in states where the number of weeks of indemnity benefits has a cap, a life time income stream not tied to the maximum number of weeks.  It also provides the insurer with a known fixed cost for the claim, allowing the insurance company to free up its reserves for other claims.

 

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, and founder of COMPClub an interactive training program teaching workers’ comp cost containment best practices.  Through this platform he is in the trenches on a monthly basis with risk managers, brokers, consultants, attorney’s, and adjusters teaching timeless workers’ comp cost containment strategies, as well as working with members to develop new tactics and systems to address the issues facing organizations today. This unique position allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Employers/Carriers/TPAs/Brokers/Vendors looking for additional information FREE resources for Workers Comp cost containment best practices are invited to access Amaxx Workers’ Comp Cost Containment Essentials training series

 

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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