Workers Compensation Rountable Roundup For July 2-10

This week at the Workers Compensation Roundtable discussion group on Linkedin there are several new discussions, including this one from Deborah Pfeifle: What is the average life span of a WC claim from first report of injury through closure, nationally? What is the #1 issue that precludes claim closure?
 
Charlie Larson of South Dakota responds with, “We are allowed to file written discovery and conduct depositions. After the petition is filed, we have 30 days to answer, each side has 30 days to answer discovery, and after obtaining a medical authorization, it takes forever to get medical records. After that is done, the depositions begin. I've had some cases drag out for years, but that typically is the result of a claimant attorney not moving the case forward.”
 
He encourages participants from other states to write their comments.
 
Mike Benishek writes that, while he knows of no national figures for claim closure, his “med-onlys usually close out in 60 days. Lost time varies by claim.” He adds, “As for what precludes claim closure, #1 is Attorneys (both claimant & defense attorneys) and the ever popular Medicare Set Aside (MSA) requirements.”
 
And Karen Rutledge writes, “I am not certain about national standards, but in TX if we could obtain claim closure on an indemnity case within 105 weeks it was a success as there is lifetime medical treatment option. In OK and CO, an indemnity case with litigation could be up to 2 years. I agree with Mike medical only was usually 60 days as you had to wait for medical providers to submit all the bills.”
 
Though an older discussion, the topic asking which state has the worst WC laws is still drawing comments. This week David Sheck, a WC and PEO broker for 20 years, writes, “I would say it is a tie between Ca and NY. Generally states in the Northeast are close runner ups.” And participant Mark Walls directs readers to a document showing the Oregon WC premium ranking summary.(WCxKit)
 
John Winkler says, “NC should be in the running as well — No cap on TT and the requirement to return injured workers to ‘suitable employment’ can be a bear with an Avg. cost per claim 34% higher than the median of 46 other states and medical costs increasing in cost per visit.”
 
And Greg Krohm adds, “I am really surprised by the near consensus on CA, IL and NY. The next interesting question is: What specific system features are the most disliked by employers (payers)? I suspect the reasons would be diverse and different in each of the above states, e.g., IL fee schedule is being racked over but the CA fee schedule is not bad relatively speaking. Hearing delays may be a big problem in one state but not in another. IL has no treatment guidelines and NY and CA guidelines have been the focus of a lot of discussion. Another interesting question: would organized labor pick a different list of states?”
 
And lastly, a new discussion was brought up by Thomas, who asks, “Does anyone have experience with the use of EBT cards for scheduled indemnity benefit transfers? Vendor recommendations?”
 
Join us at Linkedin's Workers Compensation Roundtable right now and right here! Better yet, invite your friends so they too can become informed on hot topics in the Workers Compensation industry.(WCxKit)
 
Workers Compensation Roundtable is jointly managed by people dedicated to the concept that workers compensation is a manageable line on your expense ledger, and that informed professionals are empowered achievers. Workers' compensation is not simply a cost of doing business, it is a cost that can be controlled. Beginning with an assessment of cost drivers, benchmarking data, and integrating the solutions, employers can reduce workers' comp costs 20 to 50 percent. With proper information, professionals managing compensation claims can reduce costs and improve outcomes for all stakeholders in the process. This group is for employers, business owners, risk managers, HR managers, insurance executives, and brokers to discuss the obstacles and strategies to overcome them.

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website 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. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

7 Ways to STOP Those Minor Workers Comp Lost-Time Claims

 
Many companies simply don’t offer light duty. Instead, they say to their injured workers, “If you are not 100 percent then you are no good to me.” These same employers then complain when they go over their loss run about how much they are spending on shorter (10-30 days) lost time claims.
 
 
Typically wage expense on these claims is an employer’s biggest expense. Some higher wage earners can rack up a hefty wage cost in a short amount of time. Meanwhile, the medical cost for their claims may be a few thousand dollars, tops. (WCxKit)
 
 
Here are seven ways to keep those little lost-time claims from adding up in the long run.
 
 
1. Create Light Duty Work for All Restrictions
Depending on company size, there are a lot of easy jobs a person with restrictions can do — freeing up a healthy employee to do non-restrictive tasks. Light cleaning, inventory, answering the phone, ordering parts and supplies — all of these are necessary tasks in every company. A person with short-time, restricted duty may be assigned to help on these jobs or other light work until they are able to return to full duty, always dependent on the restrictions. Light duty keeps the employee working, and makes it easier to transition back to full-duty work.
 
 
2. Make Detailed Job Descriptions for All Available Light Duty Positions
Physicians usually ask for a job description before they release an injured worker back to work. If you have a good breakdown of what the various job tasks are, it makes it easier for the doctor to decide if the employee can do those jobs. Pay attention to the details of these jobs as well, you don not want an injured employee making the injury worse through their light-duty assignment.
 
 
3. Make Sure the Employer Contacts the Clinic to Say Light Duty is Available
Who knows what the employee is telling the doctor about the day-to-day job duties? Some claimants wanting to remain off work inflate their job duties to make it sound like there is no way they could return to work until they are at full ability.
 
 
If the employer calls or faxes over a job description the doctor may feel more at ease about releasing an injured worker back to light duty. Also, some doctors flat out ask the employee if there is light duty available and most the time the employee will say no, even when it is known there is light duty, in an effort to remain out of work longer and collect a check before returning to full duty. Employers must follow up and make sure they talk to the right person at the clinic about getting the employee back to work in an assignment consistent with their medical restrictions.
 
 
4. Offer Full Pay for Light Duty Work Instead of Partial/Reduced Pay
A common deterrent to an employee not wanting to come back on light duty is the employer drops the wage rates to coincide with the light-duty job tasks. This action defeats the purpose of bringing the employee back to work on light duty. Even though the tasks are below the employee’s experience level, think of light-duty assignments in the short-term, and be flexible with the pay. The injured worker is not going to be on light-duty work forever and getting the worker back to work is the important thing.
 
 
5. Talk to the Clinic/Physician About Your Workplace and the Work it Performs
In addition to faxing a job description, ask to talk directly to the physician. This will surely make the doctor feel better about releasing an employee back to work. Talking to the employer reassures the doctor the tasks assigned will be performed properly within the medical restrictions, and that the employer will provide help on certain jobs if the injured worker needs it. In addition, most physicians can provide work restrictions over the phone instead of waiting until the next appointment to release the worker back to light duty.
 
 
If you cannot reach the doctor ask for the office manager or medical/nurse assistance. Tell them a job description was faxed and that you want the doctor to address whether or not the employee is able to perform the light duty tasks; and if not, why. The more persistent you are, the quicker the doctor will be to provide restrictions. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
 
 
6. Light Duty Work Tasks Can Motivate Workers to Get Back to Full Duty
Most people don’t like cleaning, phone work, or simple mundane tasks for very long. If workers know these tasks are a consequence of injury, they are less likely to milk their claim. Good workers hate being hurt and want to return to normal as soon as possible. If they know they will not be sitting at home idle, and instead will be answering the phone at work, it will shave time off of their claim and motivate them to be released from the doctor to full duty.
 
 
7. Think Of The Bigger Picture
Even if you do not have a lot of claims at your workplace, think about the cost in the big picture. Think quarterly and/or annually about the savings you will realize come the end of the year. As mentioned, wages are the biggest cost in short-term, lost-time claims. By keeping the injured employee working so they do not lose any time at all, you provide them with a job while they are injured, and also provide a service to the company. Before you know it they will be full duty without incurring any further lost time from their normal work duties. (WCxKit)
 
 
A good light-duty work program has a ton of benefits and you can get injured workers back to work utilizing the tips outlined above. This will not only save costs, but will also make the workplace more functional for injured workers. It is important to create and have on-hand, up-to-date, detailed job descriptions, as well as someone at your workplace following up with clinics to make sure they have the correct information regarding your light-duty work program. Once everyone is on the same page, your workers and your assigned occupational clinic will know what is expected of them when workers have a minor injury.
 

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website 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. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

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