Controlling workers' compensation insurance costs is a key concern for employers all across the country. Finding effective, affordable solutions to both protect employee safety and prevent rising expenses is something that all companies strive for, and a careful analysis of industry trends can shed some light on possible avenues of improvement.
For example, a recent study conducted by Coventry Workers' Comp Services, titled "2013 First Script Drug Trends Analysis," highlighted a number of factors that can directly impact a business' workers' comp insurance costs - specifically, the effect of narcotic use in the workforce following an injury or illness.
Given these trends, it may be wise for employers to find ways to limit prescription drug costs and dependence as a means to lower insurance expenses and help all workers return to their jobs as quickly as possible.
Prescription drug costs start to rise
In the Coventry Workers' Comp Services report, researchers found that the cost per prescription is on the way up across the country, according to Business Insurance. Even so, the number of prescriptions for workers' comp insurance claims is headed in the other direction.
The study looked at workers' comp and narcotic use trends between 2012 and 2013, and found that narcotic utilization per claimant decreased 9.1 percent during that time frame. On a similar note, cost per claimant for narcotics also dropped, down 3.3 percent on a yearly basis. However, cost per each individual prescription increased - up 5.3 percent between 2012 and 2013.
Thankfully for employers, there are a number of methods available to limit the costs associated with workers' compensation cases and prescription drug use. In the report, Coventry Workers' Comp Services wrote that the goal should be a better outcome. Possible solutions include early intervention, such as patient education or more involved healthcare professionals. Taking these steps can help injured employees return to work faster and healthier.
"Our 2013 report discusses our progress presenting a complete utilization picture at the customer and injured worker level, allowing us to combat [narcotic over-utilization]," said Brian Carpenter, vice president of product development at Coventry Workers' Comp Services, according to Business Insurance.
Narcotic use should be important to employers
The influx of prescription drugs and narcotics into the workforce should be something that is on the minds of employers everywhere. Taking the time to implement effective measures to curb use and reduce workers' comp costs can help all staff members stay healthy and productive.
According to the National Business Group on Health, overuse of prescription drugs and other substances can lead to higher insurance costs, decline in productivity on the job and increased safety hazards - both for the worker in question and other employees at the company. In addition, a number of injury and disability claims can be linked to substance abuse, and addressing this issue on a wide scale can have positive benefits for everyone involved.
Ideally, a business will take several key steps to cut back on the prevalence of prescription drugs, alcohol and other illegal substances in the workforce. The National Business Group on Health recommended implementing a workplace substance abuse program and confidential follow-up care following an injury or illness to ensure that the person is taking the correct measures to return to work. It can also help to have a drug-testing program in place in the company, with clear purposes and objectives laid out for employees.
With these steps in place, it could be easier for companies to control the costs associated with workers' comp insurance claims and prescription drug use, while helping employees stay healthy and return to work in a timely fashion.