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Moore: Workers' Comp Hot Buttons Top 10 Recycled Again

By James Moore

Friday, February 10, 2017 | 836 | 0 | min read

The top 10 workers' comp hot-buttons never seem to be new. The topics are recycled again and again as newfound topics of the press and in most WC conversations.  

James Moore

James Moore

If one thinks about it for a few minutes, has there really been a new topic of discussion on comp in the last 20 years? Let us look at the recycled topics, aka workers' comp hot buttons.

Opioids: This was a major concern now and 15 years ago. The title for it then was pharmaceutical management. It is the same topic with a new moniker. People overdoing medications in workers' comp has been a hot-button item for decades.

Fraud: This one is recycled like beverage cans. Employer fraud, employee fraud, provider fraud — the list goes on and on. This topic recycles every few years. News articles are still published as filler on an employee that ran a business while receiving workers' comp checks. 

Alternative insurance coverages: Captives, professional employer organizations, large deductible, small deductible — these will be back in the news as newfound topics within five years. Trust me on this one. There are a few viable ways to cut your workers' comp costs using the alternative markets. 

Senate or House Bill (fill in the blank): This one seems to be concentrated more in California. A new bill becomes the topic of conversation and is the buzz in the press for weeks to months. Then along comes another one and the last one fades in the rearview mirror. 

An unfair workers' comp system: A reporter or news organization pulls together a few injured workers who were shorted by the system and tried to make it the slippery slope method — one, therefore all, are mistreated — even though workers' comp is still the best delivery method for healing and benefits available. 

Workers' comp is dead: I have forecast this one myself. However, I was talking about more of a warning for the WC community to be flexible, as sitting behind your desk and waiting for the other shoe to drop will not cut it nowadays. After the current presidential election, many so-called pundits said that WC is doomed. Not so fast. Flexibility is the key. 

Decentralization/centralization: also known as expansion/retraction. This area is twofold. One from the carriers/third-party administrators, and one from vendors. We are in a centralization phase as carriers/TPA’s are buying each other up at an accelerated pace, as are the vendors who are absorbing competitors. This phase has happened at least four or five times in my WC career. Tech may sustain a decentralization to a point. 

The big safety push vs. eliminating safety/risk management: This is the area where companies hemorrhage funds. Employers will all of a sudden push safety very heavily, usually right after a spate of accidents or a visit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The other side of the coin is the companies that have eliminated all of their safety or risk management efforts as a way to save short-term cash. The bottom line here is eliminating safety and risk management in any organization will always cost more in the long term. I have seen the financials of many companies that back up having a safety department, even if it is an outside safety consultant. 

The big work comp tech push: WC is 10-15 years behind even health in most areas of tech. I have jumped down into the proverbial rabbit hole many times to look at tech. I have a very heavy tech background. Tech improvements seem normal to me. However, I am still on the lookout for a decent WC app or any tech outside of medical devices. 

Work comp gurus: Workers' compensation soothsayers come and go once or twice a decade. The blogosphere has many, including myself. Look at their backgrounds heavily before you make a decision as to whether they know their subject. This part of the insurance world is too complicated for one person to say they know “the industry.”  My Twitter handle is @workcompguru. I actually started the name as a happy hour joke — no, really — as one of my longtime friends would always call me Mister Guru when we discussed WC. The old saying “If I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I do not know,” fits well. 

This blog post is provided by James Moore, AIC, MBA, ChFC, ARM, and is republished with permission from J&L Risk Management Consultants. Visit the full website at www.cutcompcosts.com.

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