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What's New

New WCRI Publications

Why Surgery Rates Vary

Back pain is a critical issue in workers’ compensation, representing nearly one-fifth of the injuries. Although common, how to best treat the injury is controversial and lacks clinical consensus. Moreover, the frequency of surgery among workers with back injuries varies widely from state to state.  

This study addresses an important area of inquiry by investigating some of the hypotheses put forward to explain the wide variation in surgery rates. Some of the factors are within the control of workers’ compensation policymakers. Other factors result from the dynamics and practices of the larger health care system.
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CompScope™ Benchmarks, 15th Edition

This 17-state study, CompScope™ Benchmarks, 15th Edition, is designed to help policymakers and others benchmark state system performance or a company’s workers’ compensation program. The benchmarks provide an excellent baseline for tracking the effectiveness of policy changes and identifying important trends. They examine how income benefits, overall medical payments, costs, use of benefits, duration of disability, litigiousness, benefit delivery expenses, timeliness of payment, and other metrics and system performance have changed from 2008 to 2013, for claims with experience through March 2014. The 17 states in the study―Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin―represent nearly 60 percent of the nation’s workers’ compensation benefit payments. Separate state reports are available for 15 of the 17 study states.

To read the abstract, executive summary, or to order a report, click on the state below.




New Jersey


North Carolina




Louisiana Virginia
Massachusetts Wisconsin

Workers’ Compensation Medical Cost Containment: A National Inventory, 2015

As the cost of medical care for injured workers continues to grow, this study provides policymakers and system stakeholders with an inventory of the cost containment initiatives employed by 51 jurisdictions. This study updates the tables from the previous edition with the statutory provisions, administrative rules, and administrative procedures as of January 1, 2015. However, it does not provide written explanations of the initiatives in use by each state.

These initiatives aim to curb the cost of a particular service or to reduce the amount of services provided. Cost containment regulatory initiatives entail a balancing act of limiting the cost of services and inappropriate or unnecessary treatment without negatively affecting the quality of treatment or access to care for injured workers.
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Hospital Outpatient Cost Index for Workers' Compensation, 4th Edition

Rising hospital costs have been a concern and focus of recent public policy debates in many states. To assist policymakers and business decision makers in managing this growth, WCRI has created this unique study, which is updated regularly, to compare hospital outpatient costs across states, identify key cost drivers, and measure the impact of reforms.

The 33 states included in this study are Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
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Predictors of Worker Outcomes

Four new state-specific studies identified new predictors of worker outcomes that can help public officials, payors, and health care providers improve the treatment and communication an injured worker receives after an injury―leading to better outcomes. The states examined were Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa and Tennessee. The studies represent Phase 2 of a multi-phase study to examine worker outcomes.  

The studies are based on telephone interviews with 4,915 injured workers across the following 12 states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The surveys were conducted in 2013 and 2014 for injuries in 2010 and 2011.

To read the abstract, executive summary, or to order a report, click on the state below.





Are Physician Dispensing Reforms Sustainable?

After 18 states enacted reforms to limit the prices paid to doctors for prescriptions they write and dispense, this WCRI study finds that physician-dispensers in Illinois and California discovered a new way to continue charging and to get paid two to three times the price of a drug when compared with pharmacies. The study identifies the mechanism that allows doctors in Illinois and California to dispense drugs from their offices at much higher prices when compared with pharmacies. Although this study uses data from two large states, it raises questions for all states where physician-dispensing prices are regulated.
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The Impact of Physician Dispensing on Opioid Use   

This study found evidence that physician dispensing encouraged some physicians to unnecessarily prescribe strong opioids. The study examined changes in physician prescribing and dispensing of opioids for newly injured workers after the implementation of a ban on physician dispensing of strong opioids, which went into effect on July 1, 2011. Although the findings are based on Florida data, the lessons may apply to other states where physician dispensing is common.
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Of Special Interest

Save the Date for 2016 WCRI Annual Issues & Research Conference

On the heels of this year's record breaking conference attendance, we have secured a date and location for WCRI's 2016 Annual Issues & Research Conference. Next year's conference will be held March 10-11, 2016, at the Westin Copley Place, Boston, MA. Please save the date and we will notify you when registration opens. Click here to see photos from our most recent conference.

Discover WCRI

Are you new to WCRI and the research we do?  Looking to learn more about us? 



Our Medical Price Index, Sixth Edition, published in July 2014 is available free as a PDF. Click on the links below for a no charge look at the work we do and the value of the findings we present.

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WCRI E-Mail List


Would you like to be notified when a new study is published, a web briefing is being offered, a public briefing is scheduled, or new information on our conference is available? Join WCRI's e-mail list and you will receive monthly e-mail updates about upcoming events and publications.  Send an email to us at telling us you want to be on our email list and we will take care of that for you.



In the News

WCRI's recent media releases

Articles referencing WCRI research.

Baltimore Sun

Md. lawmakers won't seek to limit doctors' ability to prescribe drugs

Maryland doctors who dispense under the state's workers' compensation system charge four times more than pharmacies for pills of painkillers Vicodin and Percocet and nearly seven times more for muscle-relaxer Soma, according to the Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute.
full article

New York Times

New Dosages of Old Drugs Are Used to Raise Their Prices

Over the last two years, states nationwide have moved to crack down on so-called physician dispensing of prescription drugs, a practice largely limited to doctors who treat injured workers. But doctors and companies have responded by exploiting loopholes in those rules and adopting new strategies to stay one step ahead, recent studies suggest.
full article

The Gazette

Study: Workers cite trust issue with injuries - Fear layoff, firing after being hurt on the job

A new study has found that some workers fear they will be laid off or fired after sustaining an on-the-job injury. The study from the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute examined predictors of worker outcomes that can help Iowa public officials, insurers, and health care providers improve the treatment and communication an injured worker receives after an injury.
full article

CFO Magazine

New Rules on Drugs Not Curbing Workers' Comp Costs

In a trend that may perplex self-insured companies trying to rein in workers’ compensation costs, doctors who prescribe drugs from their offices are exploiting a loophole in new regulations designed to limit what they can charge for prescriptions, according to a new study.
full article

WCRI 2015 Annual Report/Research Review

We would like to provide you with a copy of WCRI's 2015 Annual Report & Research Review. 

We are proud of the impact our research has had in providing public officials and various system stakeholders with the information-based data they need to make better decisions. Examples of where our research has had an impact can be found starting on page 6.

We encourage you to pass this along to others in or outside your organization. Our research is funded by member organizations so enlarging our membership base allows us to expand our research agenda.  If you or a colleague are interested in becoming a member of WCRI, please let us know.

Click on the following link to download a copy of the report in PDF format. Please know it may take a minute to download.
download the free PDF for the Annual Report



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