Cambridge, MA, Nov. 2, 2017 – A recent study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) found that Wisconsin’s medical payments per workers’ compensation claim were higher than typical for 2015 injuries evaluated as of March 2016. While growth in Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation medical payments per claim slowed in the past several years, medical payments were still increasing at a faster rate than other states that WCRI studied.

The study, CompScope™ Medical Benchmarks for Wisconsin, 18th Edition, examined the costs, prices, and utilization of workers’ compensation medical care in Wisconsin in comparison with 17 states.

“Workers’ compensation medical costs have been a topic of ongoing interest to Wisconsin policymakers and stakeholders,” said Ramona Tanabe, WCRI’s executive vice president and counsel. “At the center of the policy debate has been whether policymakers should take steps to regulate medical prices, and if so, how and with what consequences for the Wisconsin system.”

The following are among the WCRI study findings:

  • In 2015, Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation medical payments per claim with more than seven days of lost time were 61 percent higher than the median study state; medical payments per all paid claims were 46 percent higher than typical. These results reflect a widening gap between Wisconsin and the median study state compared with prior editions of the CompScope™ report, which showed Wisconsin’s average medical payments as being closer to the median study state.   
  • Substantially higher prices paid for nonhospital medical services were a factor contributing to higher average medical payments. Utilization of nonhospital medical services in Wisconsin was among the lowest of the study states.
  • Payments per claim for nonhospital services increased 3 percent annually from 2010 through 2015, driven more by price increases than utilization.
  • Similarly, hospital outpatient payments per claim increased 4.7 percent per year, on average. Increases in payments per service contributed to this trend; there was little change in utilization of hospital outpatient care.
  • In 2015, Wisconsin had among the highest percentages of claims receiving hospital outpatient care, due primarily to a higher percentage of workers receiving radiology, physical medicine, and office visits from hospital outpatient providers.

The study also mentions other WCRI research that found injured workers in Wisconsin reported higher rates of satisfaction with their medical care and among the lowest percentages of problems accessing medical care. Overall total costs per all paid claims were lower than typical in Wisconsin, driven largely by fewer workers losing time from work after an injury, substantially lower indemnity payments per claim, and shorter duration of temporary disability benefits.

WCRI studied medical payments, prices, and utilization in 18 states, including Wisconsin, looking at claim experience through 2016 on injuries that occurred mainly in 2010 to 2015. WCRI’s CompScope™ Medical Benchmarks studies compare payments from state to state and across time.

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The Cambridge-based WCRI is recognized as a leader in providing high-quality, objective information about public policy issues involving workers' compensation systems. 

About WCRI:

The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is an independent, not-for-profit research organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since 1983, WCRI has been a catalyst for significant improvements in workers' compensation systems around the world with its objective, credible, and high-quality research. WCRI's members include employers; insurers; governmental entities; managed care companies; health care providers; insurance regulators; state labor organizations; and state administrative agencies in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.


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