Dr. Richard Victor, executive director of the Workers Compensation Research Institute, says a large chunk of that is spent in the workers' comp system.
Speaking at a recent conference, Victor pointed to opioids and unnecessary surgeries as examples of unnecessary care that is driving up medical costs in workers' comp.
For example, a study of low back cases with disk conditions that received surgery showed a 20 percentage point difference among states. Where surgeries were performed in 20 percent of the California cases, Arkansas' rate was more than 40 percent. The study analyzed claims from 2009 to 2011 with more than seven days of lost time.
The reasons for the varying surgery rates were not specifically identified, although the researchers considered:
- Differences in local practice norms.
- Higher prices paid to surgeons.
- Concentrations of teaching hospitals in a particular area.
- Surgeon ownership of surgical facilities.
- Larger supply of surgeons.
October 21, 2013
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