* Workers’ comp reforms two years ago have succeeded in driving down some costs, but overall costs have barely moved. Oy…
Medical payments for workers’ compensation claims dropped only 4.6 percent in Illinois last year even though the General Assembly reduced the maximum fees for workers’ compensation-related office visits, surgery and other treatments by 30 percent in 2011 (see the PDF). That’s according to a study of 16 states by the Workers Compensation Research Institute, an insurance industry-funded think tank in Cambridge, Mass. The states were selected to represent the high, middle and low end of the cost spectrum.
Medical fees actually fell 24 percent last year, according to the study, as some providers already were charging less than the maximum amount allowed by law. But those savings largely were offset by greater use of medical services and increased spending on litigation over medical claims, second opinions by company doctors and other measures to control medical costs.
As a result, total payments per claim were down just 1 percent.
* And this is just depressing…
While the study addressed only costs per claim, Illinois is well below average in the number of claims per 1,000 workers, in part because of high unemployment in construction and manufacturing, which tend to have more injuries.