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Study: Comorbidities can greatly increase work comp costs

Countless studies have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt how serious medical conditions like obesity, hypertension and diabetes can have a serious impact on the bottom line of employers. However, a recently released study reveals that these chronic medical conditions can also have a serious impact on their workers' compensation costs.

The study, performed by researchers with the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), sought to examine the price differential between standard work comp claims and work comp claims involving certain employee comorbidities (i.e., a work comp claim plus a condition like obesity, hypertension, drug abuse, diabetes and chronic pulmonary).

Shockingly, the NCCI researchers determined that work comp claims involving employee comorbidities are "about twice the $6,000 average for [standard] injured workers' claims."

Breaking the numbers down further, researchers discovered the following:

  • Diabetes increased the average price of the work comp claim by $3,169
  • Drug abuse increased the average price of the work comp claim by $2,999
  • Hypertension increased the average price of the work comp claim by $2,687
  • Chronic pulmonary increased the average price of the work comp claim by $2,500

The researchers also determined that work comp claims involving employee comorbidities resulted in more time away from work. For example, 56 percent of claims involving hypertension were found to result in time away from work, while 81 percent of claims involving obesity were found to result in time away from work.

The news didn't get much better for employers as NCCI researchers concluded that the incidence of work comp claims involving employee comorbidities is on the rise and doesn't appear to be slowing down.

"The share of workers' compensation claims with a comorbidity diagnosis nearly tripled from Accident Year 2000 to Accident Year 2009, growing from a share of 2.4 percent to 6.6 percent," reads the study. "Over a nine-year span, the share of claims with drug abuse diagnoses (inclusive of alcohol and tobacco) more than quadrupled, and the shares for diabetes, hypertension, and obesity diagnoses have tripled."

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Source:

Risk & Insurance, "Comorbid conditions on the rise, study shows," Jan. 3, 2013 

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