Alarm Bells Ringing For Workers’ Comp. Carriers
May 21, 2012| By Diane Brown | Workers' Compensation | English
Workers’ Compensation business is always challenging. But insurers now have some critical issues that have the potential to seriously impact their bottom line.
The use of opioids – drugs long used to treat acute pain and approved by the FDA for treating end-stage cancer pain – has reached epidemic proportions in Workers’ Compensation (WC).Employers and insurers in the U.S. will spend around $1.4 billion on narcotics this year. There’s little credible evidence that opioid use is appropriate treatment for WC injuries. But there’s ample evidence that long-term opioid use leads to longer claim duration, long-term disability, higher costs and higher medical expense. And that’s on top of the damage it does to relationships, families and society.
Another WC issue emergently facing insurers is nanotech risk. Nanotechnology-based products raked in $225 billion in 2009 in the U.S., and by 2015 that number is expected to rise to $3 trillion, according to the National Research Council. We believe that occupational exposure to nanomaterials will continue to rise as workers produce an increasing number of nano-enabled products. Worryingly, very little regulation or oversight has developed to assuage our concerns about what this could mean to workers, employers and the insurers of Workers’ Compensation.
These issues are impacting insurers at a time when important questions are being asked about the fundamentals and performance of the WC system. The system has become increasingly complicated, expensive and, when it comes to managing chronic pain cases, far removed from its fundamental goal of employee recovery and return to work.
Read more on the critical issues in Workers’ Compensation.