Insurance Information Institute chief actuary James Lynch brings us another highlight from the Workers Compensation Research Institute conference:
A preliminary WCRI study showed little difference across states in how well workers recover from injuries but showed some significant differences in how satisfied injured workers were with the treatment they received.
WCRI researcher Bogdan Savych presented the results of a 15-state survey of 6,000 injured workers. The workers were interviewed three years after their injury. The goal was to learn how well workers recovered and to gain insight into how well the workers compensation process works, at least from the injured person’s point of view.
The health of workers was assessed on a 100-point scale in which the typical American’s health is at 50. Before they were injured, Savych said, workers were assessed at a 56. That score fell to 26 immediately after injury. Three years later, the median injured worker was 46, mostly recovered but not entirely.
Not all workers recover fully, Savych said. Depending on the state, between 9 percent and 19 percent of workers reported they had not fully returned to work. The 15-state median was 14 percent.
WCRI undertook the survey in part to determine how states differ in both recovery rates and patient satisfaction. The organization found that the severity of injuries was comparable across states, as was the level of recovery.
But worker satisfaction varied considerably. In the typical state, 17 percent of workers reported “big problems” getting the medical services they wanted. Wisconsin workers reported the best experience–only 11% reported big problems–while 21 percent of Florida workers said they had big problems getting the services they wanted.
Similarly, in the typical state, 14 percent reported “big problems” getting the medical provider they wanted, with Wisconsin the lowest and Florida the highest.
And 10 percent of Wisconsin workers said they were “very dissatisfied” with their overall care. Nineteen percent of Florida workers made the same assessment. In the typical state, 14 percent were very dissatisfied.
Savych noted that costs per claim were higher in Wisconsin than in the typical state, but the survey provides evidence that claimants from that state may be getting better outcomes for the cost.