Saturday, October 29, 2011
Colorado workers comp insurance rates to go up
The Denver Post is reporting that businesses can expect a rate increase on their workers compensation insurance coverage. This after a few years of declines. Why? The number of claims is not going up. The explanation appears to be in the continuous and unrelenting increase in medical costs. Here is the Colorado statement on all this. This rise in medical costs when the economy is not inflating remains ominous for all of us. The failure of society to address this is rather sad. We all talk about it but it takes a concerted effort and in our politically charged country we are less interested in problem solving and more in ideology. Wouldn't it be nice if they set up a task force to address such costs in a sensible way? I mean an across the board analytical review. If medications are a big factor find ways to lower that expense. If we need more nurses or practitioners find ways to increase the numbers with educational incentives. If caution leads to the running of multiple and usually unneeded tests find ways to prioritize those tests rather then run all of them at a time. If malpractice rates are too high find ways to make providers accountable without increasing those rates. I mean weed out the bad apples especially in workers compensation. Simplify the paperwork too! While I do like the medical treatment guidelines I saw recently what appears to be making it more complicated to obtain prior authorization. In workers compensation there are many disputes in what I see as primarily medical legal issues. When we go to a hearing and it seems to be a legal issue on compensability in reality many such cases involve medical causality. So some of these rising costs involve insurers hiring experts to question causality and treatment. As an example an attorney related to me that he had obtained a DIME opinion that the claimant is not at MMI. In the past this just led to more treatment and a reassessment. Overcoming a DIME historically has not been easy but the pattern is now to question everything. There are doctors out there that will nearly always assert an injury is not work related or that the DIME doctor made a mistake. A DIME would cost $675 but they spend $5000 or more fighting it. The point is not all the rising costs in workers compensation are based on purely medical matters. Some come from the insurer disputing matters. It also drags out the proceedings which I do not really see as helping the claimant needing treatment and it is costly. In any event businesses can expect higher workers comp premiums next year.