2012 – 2022 Workers Comp Prescription Analytics Shows Reversing Trend
The Workers Comp Prescription Analytics Report released by NCCI today shows that prescription costs per claim have flat-lined or decreased in many states over the last decade. Take five minutes and look over the article – worth your time. The article can be found at this link.
The irony here is the series of four studies were centered on covering medical cost inflation. See my comments at the end of this article on why I think the cost decrease occurred nationwide. You can also see what I said concerning 2014 Rx costs here.
Three of the nice things about the way NCCI sets up its articles are:
- Sliders to break the workers comp prescription analytics down by state (Nice!) If any underwriter, risk manager, or claims person wanted to see how the jurisdictions they cover have decreased/increased, they are just a couple of clicks away from charts/data.
- An authors’ button at the top right of the article introduction page (see here) to send questions directly to the study’s authors. From my experience, they do get back to you not long after you pose a question or comment.
- Cristine Pike, Communications Director is another great source if you have any questions/comments.
Surprising Charts and Numbers = Decrease?
I would have expected more of a flat line with no decreases in cost per claim. Let us look at the NCCI study summary info:
- From 2012 to 2021, the average drug-paid cost per claim decreased by about 2.6% per year.
- The annual reduction in drug payment per claim varied across four regions, ranging from 2.0% in the Southeastern region to 3.9% in the Western region.
- The price of prescription drugs grew at an annual rate of 3.7%, only to be offset by a 6.0% decline in the type and number of prescriptions.
- Opioid claims1 saw the largest decrease in drug costs, largely due to a reduction in both opioid and non-opioid prescriptions.
- Countrywide (CW), of claims with at least one prescription, the share of these that also had at least one opioid decreased from 55% in 2012 to 26% in 2021.
My Take On The NCCI Workers Comp Prescription Analytics
Why did the cost per claim occur per state and nationwide? The study mentions one of them and not the other.
- Opioids became a workers comp buzzword. When a cost becomes a buzzword with a negative connotation, the attention paid to opioids caused a huge spike in reviewing, challenging, and providing alternatives in the claim departments nationwide.
- The other one is that (as I saw it in claim reviews), many people were hesitant about seeking medical treatment during the pandemic – understandably so in most cases. Physicians were not going to renew opioid prescriptions without an associated office visit.