Deborah L. Michael, President, Helmsman Management Services, was the industry keynote speaker at the opening of the 70th Annual Workers Compensation Education Conference. There is a wealth of knowledge here at the conference with over 144 pages of educational breakouts covering a range of information. Deborah discussed the outlook for workers’ compensation, key issues, variability in workers’ compensation and the greatest opportunities for 2015 and beyond.
Issues to watch in 2015 include:
-prescription drug industry-up 6% in 2014
-excessive use to narcotics and opioids
-increased generic drug costs
The outlook for workers’ compensation for the future is rates are on the decline but severity is on the rise. Premium drivers include flat to decreasing rates and an improving economy. There is an increase in insurance exposure with an improved economy. Loss drivers include loss ratio deterioration expected, frequency declines forecasts to disappear, and slightly increased WC severity. Workers’ compensation lost time frequency declined in 2014 mostly due to advancements in technology. Demographics also have an impact on workers’ compensation. The population is aging, over 25% of the workforce is in their 60s, this can make it harder to return to work after injury. Obesity is also a factor. In the U.S. over 35% of the population is obese. This causes more injuries to lower extremities, diabetes, stroke, comorbidity, and osteoporosis.
Some of the greatest opportunities for 2015 include:
-Embrace reducing risk and how to continue this trend
-Create wellness programs and strong return to work programs at your company
-engage in state workers’ compensation reforms
-create comprehensive medical management teams
-ensure quality care for your employees