At the 2016 WCRI Annual Issues & Research Conference, WCRI representatives presented a session comparing workers’ compensation outcomes across states. Panelists included:
- Dr. Sharon Belton – WCRI
- Dr. Bogdan Savych – WCRI
- Dr. Vennela Thumula – WCRI
The purpose of this study and other similar studies recently conducted by WCRI was to analyze the outcomes reported by injured workers. The study went beyond claims data and involved conversations with over 6,000 injured workers with over seven days of lost time due to a work injury. The interviews were conducted three years post-injury. There were 15 states in the study and they conducted 400 interviews in each state.
The study focused on:
- Speed and sustainability of return to work.
- Recovery of physical health and functioning.
- Access to medical care.
- Satisfaction with medical care.
Sustainability of return to work was gauged by those who had returned to work at least 30 days and still working at the time of the survey. WCRI tried to eliminate people who were no longer working due to other reasons. Across 15 states, the median for workers to not have a sustained return to work was 14% with a range of 9% – 19%. Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin had the best return-to-work rates, while Kentucky and Georgia had the worst rates.
To gauge physical recovery and functioning, they used a SF-12 instrument that asked questions about activities, function and pain. The answers combined in a score that ranged from 0-100 with 50 being average. They asked questions about their functioning pre- and post-injury. The median for the 15 states was 30 points, with very little variation between states.
For access to medical care, workers were asked if they had any “big problems” getting the medical care that was recommended. The 15 state median was 17% of workers reporting “big problems” getting medical care, with the range being from 11% in Wisconsin to over 20% in Florida. The same question was asked with regard to seeing the desired provider. For this, the median was 14% with a low of 9% and high of 19%. The biggest reason given for having big problems getting the desired care was that the employer or insurer discouraging workers from using the desired provider.
For satisfaction with medical care, a median of 14% of respondents said they were “very dissatisfied” with the medical care that they received. The low was 10% in Wisconsin and the high was almost 20% in Florida.
When the reports are released later this year, they will provide individual reports for each of the 15 states in the study.