August 1, 2001 Related Topics: Comparing Group Health and Workers’ Compensation
An increasing percentage of workers receive treatment for their work-related injuries and illnesses within workers’ compensation medical networks. Advocates of networks contend that directing injured workers to network providers helps contain costs because of their specialized knowledge of occupational injuries, familiarity with administrative reporting requirements and objectivity with the disability aspects of the case. In addition, some maintain that early involvement with network providers can reduce medical and indemnity costs by both (1) increasing the likelihood that subsequent care will be provided within a network, and (2) exercising some continuing influence over treatment decisions and facilitating return to work based on decisions made during the initial visit. Critics, on the other hand, argue that networks may seek to contain medical costs by offering fewer services and thereby may negatively affect the quality of care for injured workers, lengthening the duration of disability and increasing income benefit payments.
The quality and accessibility of medical care are not directly measured in this study. WCRI is undertaking studies that will examine the affect of medical networks on worker satisfaction, health and functioning, and return to work – important dimensions of medical care for injured workers.
The Impact of Initial Treatment by Network Providers on Workers’ Compensation Medical Costs and Disability Payments. Sharon E. Fox, Richard A. Victor, Xiaoping Zhao. August 2001. DM-01-01.
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