Worker’s Comp Research Shows Positive Results for Wisconsin

Low opioid use, low medical price growth...and falling premiums

February 17, 2017

The State’s Worker’s Comp Advisory Committee received some good news at their February 14 meeting: Wisconsin is one of the lowest of 25 states when it comes to opioid use, and there has been little change in Wisconsin non-hospital medical prices from 2014 to 2015. 

Staff from the Worker’s Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) provided the Council with two presentations at their meeting. The first summarized lessons from studies on opioid prescribing reforms. The data showed variation in the use of opioids with Wisconsin ranking third lowest out of 25 states in what is called the “morphine equivalent amount.” The WCRI study covers the time period before 2015, and since then the state has taken tremendous strides in combating opioid abuse with the help of Rep. John Nygren’s HOPE legislation, and with the provider community coming together with the Attorney General in his “Dose of Reality” campaign. WCRI staff said a newer release of their opioid research is expected to be released later this year.

In the second presentation, WCRI staff updated the Council on the latest research findings about worker’s compensation overall. As in past years, the study continues to show Wisconsin has a relatively low percentage of workers who lose more than seven days of work after injury, low litigation, steady utilization, lowest number of injured workers reporting “big problems” getting medical services and lowest percentage of injured workers that are “very dissatisfied” with overall care. With respect to medical prices, in 2014-2015, medical prices for non-hospital services grew just 1.8 percent. 

All of this is good news for Wisconsin’s injured workers. As reported in last month’s Valued Voice, the Council also heard from Bernie Rosauer, president of the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB)—the independent agency that establishes rates charged by insurance companies for worker’s compensation insurance coverage in Wisconsin—who discussed the positive attributes of Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation system. In a presentation provided to the Council, Rosauer reminded the Council that worker’s compensation insurance rates decreased by -3.19 percent in 2016 for all job classifications in aggregate, but decreased even more for manufacturing at -5.00 percent. Rosauer noted that Wisconsin has “got a good thing going” with its worker’s compensation system, and that other states are aware of Wisconsin’s well-functioning system.

This story originally appeared in the February 17, 2017 edition of WHA Newsletter