Should Your WorkComp Medical Coverage Include Compounded Medications?

Written by on 2/22/2017 3:11 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

Commonly formulated for aches and pains, compound medications are really putting a strain on the workman’s compensation insurance industry. Custom-made for patients, these concoctions are increasing pharmaceutical expenditures in the workers’ comp arena nationwide, and are at the center of several high-profile fraud cases.

Feeling the burn
Ambiguous state laws and formulary guidelines are driving the trend of compounds. Taking advantage of loopholes in the system and despite a lack of evidence that such creams actually work, compounding companies are playing the numbers game. Evidence show them submitting multiple bills for large amounts in excess of $5,000, earning excess profits with a single claim approval, and costing the system millions for grossly overpriced products such as Bengay.

Playing the game
Compound drugs previously accounted for just a small percentage of workcomp spending. Prescribed in cases where patients can’t tolerate commercially prescribed medications due to allergy or limitations, they are medically proven and necessary. However with creams for pain and inflammation, minimal absorption levels negate the necessity of these drugs for the prevention of allergic reaction.

Previously a last resort, these compounds are now being exploited as an avenue for compounding pharmacies to make money, rather than as a necessary alternative. State and federal prosecutors are even finger-pointing doctors believed to have received kickbacks in exchange for compound prescriptions. In The Postal Service alone, compounds rose from 8% of prescriptions and 6% of costs in 2011, to 34% of prescriptions and 53% of costs in 2015, costing the Postal Service an average of $390,000 a day in compound drug costs.

Workman's compensation insurance costs compounding on you? Minnesota Comp Advisor has the cure. Contact us today.


Should You Be Watching Your Staff's Social Media Page to Prevent Workcomp Fraud?

Written by on 2/20/2017 3:09 AM in , . It has 0 Comments.

Fighting workcomp fraud? You may be tempted to turn to social media in your efforts to expose scammers. Better than binoculars and all-night stakeouts, social media is increasingly being used to thwart the less-than-honest.

Digital addiction
People just can’t seem to stay off social media, and exposing dishonesty in workers’ comp claims is just one of the many ways a person’s “webutation” can come back to haunt them, exposing up to 10% of claims that are estimated to be fraudulent.

Web-P.I., or D-I-Y endeavor?
Digital searches can be fast and comprehensive, but generally not achieved with the typical Google search. Many sites don’t let Google index their database, resulting in less-than-stellar results. Step-in social detection or concierge search professionals. Like private detection, but on the web, these businesses utilize specialized software that goes beyond the surface web to legally dig-up public information using identifiers such as nicknames, user names, aliases, email addresses, relatives, Facebook and other social media tags, texts, photos, and videos, producing far more relevant results. All this is done from behind a keyboard, with no contact with the individual in question.

Worth its weight in gold
In less than 6 months, one such business, Social Detection of Philadelphia, saved employers and insurance carriers more than $7 million in only 8 cases. Pricing for similar services runs from $375-500 per report, with monthly subscriptions available (pricing dependent on the number of searches, typically in the $199-1,000 range).

Tired of doing the dirty work when it comes to fighting workcomp fraud cases? Clean up your act – and the effects of workers’ comp scammers - with the help of Minnesota Comp Advisor today.


How to Prevent Injuries in the Trash Room

Written by on 2/15/2017 2:00 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.


If the thought of injuries in the trash room conjures up images of one of the Three Stooges slipping on a banana peel, you’re probably not alone, however trash rooms – banana peel lined or not – are among the most dangerous rooms in multi-family properties and businesses. So, allowing workplace injury prevention to slip here (every pun intended) could land you in hot water.

No laughing matter
Moving a dumpster at an apartment or business is one of the most dangerous jobs an employee can do. Manually pushing or pulling heavy dumpsters curbside for trash removal can result in serious injury: The average cost of a claim for an injury in the trash room is more than $41,000.

An uphill battle
There is typically no good way to push or pull a dumpster out of its location. And this mountainous duty is often left to a single worker, particularly at smaller businesses. Rough terrain, wet surfaces, inclement weather and more can all combine to create a hazardous situation that dramatically increases the risk of slips and falls. Pushing and pulling the dumpster also easily results in strains and sprains, particularly in the back and shoulder, which could have been easily prevented. The possibility of fraud adds additional complications.

10,000 pounds of cure
WasteCaddy Dumpster Mover, a $5,000 device costing far less than a single claim, can greatly reduce the risk of injury, engineering out the potential for strains, sprains, slips and falls to ensure employee safety in the trash room.

Workplace injury prevention is no walk in the park. Find a safer path to savings with the help of Minnesota Comp Advisor today.


Should There Be a Place for Sales Reps in the Surgery Room?

Written by on 2/13/2017 3:00 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.


Patients undergoing surgery may have hosted an unwelcome visitor. Nationwide, sales reps are commonly present in operating rooms during procedures, where they are looking out for their interests and even playing a role in surgeries. Do doctors have the employee management tips necessary to deal with these risky sideliners?

Who’s “assisting” the surgery?
Far from common knowledge and possibly one of the best kept secrets in healthcare, these sales reps, who often have no medical training, earn a living encouraging doctors to purchase and use their company’s medical devices – whether or not they’re necessary.

A “fixture” in the OR during orthopedic procedures
Going far beyond Big Pharma, device reps are often bedside throughout the operation. Some unfortunate doctors even consult them for medical advice, going so far as to ask for step-by-step how-to’s mid-procedure.

What are doctor’s saying “yes” to?
The latest and most expensive replacement parts – without knowing whether they're safe or reliable. For example: Nearly 100,000 DePuy hip replacement sets were coerced into use by reps, which just 5 years following FDA approval were recalled as defective (and requiring another surgery for replacement).

Interesting “employee management tips”
Making a frightening statement, the head of one industry group for such devices told the Washington Post a few years prior that such devices could not be implanted and used safely without such reps “guiding” doctors. (So much for medical school and training.)

What kind of surgeons are your employees turning to for their worker’s comp recovery procedures? Like them, you need someone who is experienced and trustworthy. Get the right team on your side with Minnesota Comp Advisor today.


Technology in the Workman's Compensation Industry

Written by on 2/8/2017 3:57 AM in , , . It has 0 Comments.

Technology has radically changed the way companies do business. In workman's compensation insurance, it has been a boon in reducing fraud and severities. However, in the office – and in claims resolution – technology has not been without its drawbacks.

The efficiency conundrum
Though advancements in technology are well-known to boost the efficiency of day-to-day operations, on the communication front it can actually slow down claims resolution. This is due in large part to the higher value placed on impersonal internet communications favored by a large percentage of society versus in-person or live-talk human interactions.

Out of touch
Replacing face-to-face communications with emails and texting is perceived as more convenient, with these forms of communication typically given a higher value. However reliance on them alone often overcomplicates matters, producing an ad-infinitum back-and-forth that could easily be resolved with a quick phone call or in-person meeting.

Electronic types of communication can take several times longer, especially in claims settlement cases, where it is much easier and less adrenaline-inducing to argue points on settlements. Worse, instead of the “connection” these types of technologies boast, interpersonal communication decreases vital personal interaction, relationship-building, problem-solving skills, and opportunities.

A great tool, but not an across-the-board solution
Changing the way people communicate with each other is currently one of the biggest challenges to results in the workcomp industry for all parties, from claimants to employers and adjusters. While technology can be great, some things, such as claims settlement, still benefit from a more traditional approach.

Feeling out of touch with your workman's compensation insurance needs? Minnesota Comp Advisor is here to lend you an ear. Contact us today.


Significant Drop in Opioid Prescriptions for Injured Workers

Written by on 2/6/2017 3:56 AM in , . It has 0 Comments.

A study recently released by the by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) uncovered “noticeable decreases” in opioid prescriptions doled out in workman's compensation insurance claims across 25 states. Reforms aimed at curbing opioid abuse, such as those recommended in the March 2016 release of CDC Guidelines for prescribing opioids in chronic pain cases, include drug formularies and prescription drug monitoring programs. Workers’ comp payers now have reason to believe prescribers are finally heeding warnings about the dangers of overprescribing this class of drugs.

Under the microscope
The study compared the amount of opioids prescribed per claim over two 24-month periods ending March 2012 and March 2014 (with injuries arising from October 1, 2009, to September 30, 2012). Opioids received by injured workers showed statistically significant reductions in the range of 20-31% in the six states included in the study: Texas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Data covered over 337,000 nonsurgical workers’ compensation claims and 1.9 million associated prescriptions from all 25 states, and reflected an average 24 months of experience for each claim: 40-75% of claims in each state.

Other studies show similar pattern
This data corresponds with an Express Scripts report citing overall workers’ comp spending on opioids is down almost 5%, with utilization down nearly 11%. The study also noted opioids received by injured workers (on average) is down from 3.33 prescriptions in 2014, to 2.91. At $450.90 per-user-per-year, opioids continue to be the costliest class of medications for occupational injuries.

When was the last time you celebrated a workman's compensation insurance victory? Make a change for the better with the help ofMinnesota Comp Advisor today.


Can Workman's Compensation Programs Remain Profitable in 2017?

Written by on 2/1/2017 3:40 AM in , . It has 0 Comments.

The largest product segment in the US commercial insurance sector, workman's compensation insurance programs, realized significant underwriting profits in 2015. Vastly improving over the past 5 years, this change in fortune is attributable to a variety of factors. Whether it holds in the coming years, however, remains to be seen.

Outlook is hazy
Net written premium growth expanded at an average annual rate of 7% from 2011-2015, tapering off to a 3.5% increase in 2015. Better pricing strategies have resulted from several economic factors, such as an improvement in insured exposures from employment and payroll growth, favorable loss-cost trends and reserve experiences, thanks in part to underwriting improvements and stability in frequency and claims. Business appears on the up-and-up for the industry, however long-term profitability remains uncertain.

What holds the key to the future?
The historically cyclical nature of workers’ compensation underwriting and the rarity of profits naturally leads to the question of sustainability. Numerous obstacles lie ahead. Market competition is pushing a trend toward declining premium rates, and the sun may be setting on favorable trends in claims cost factors and loss reserve experience. Positive influences on long term claims frequency patterns include underwriter technology used for claims analysis, predictive modeling, as well as the evolution of risk management and employee safety practices. However, the precariousness of the Affordable Care Act, rising prescription drug costs, external forces (economic, regulatory, legal), and the natural volatility in workman’s comp insurance market are leading experts to point to probable underwriting losses in 2017.

Workman's compensation insurance losses keeping you up at night? Minnesota Comp Advisor can help. Contact us today.


February 15, 2017 Seminar on Medical Marijuana

Written by on 1/30/2017 3:18 AM in , , , , . It has 0 Comments.


As marijuana legalization continues its fiery path across the US, workplace concerns abound. Are you among the employers worried about its effects on your work environment? Minnesota Comp Advisor is at the forefront of this pressing issue, helping you put things in perspective to better handle the complex cannabis conundrum facing business owners and managers - not just in the Minnesota area, but nationwide.

Join Us for “Seeing Green: An Employer’s Guide to Medical Marijuana”
This Wednesday, February 15, 2017, at the Southview Country Club from 7:30-10:00 am. As part of our FREE workers’ comp seminar series, discover how to safely and effectively navigate the unique risks and challenges presented by medical marijuana in Minnesota, from hiring and firing legalities to upholding workplace safety. Get expert information and advice from:

• Workers’ Comp Attorney Susan K. Conley
Sue is known across local and national organizations for her focus on the defense and mitigation of damages in complex and expensive claims, providing practical education and insight based on her more than 25 years of legal background in workers’ comp and general liability cases.

• Risk Mitigation Expert Mary Wells
Risk management and workcomp expert Mary Wells has over 25 years of leadership from the perspectives of insurance, employers, and agencies. She specializes in aiding employers in cost control efforts through identifying, preventing, and mitigating risks through proper claims management and cost containment programs.

Don’t let hot-button issues land you in hot water. Handle workplace concerns right the first time, and every time, with the help of our award-winning seminars. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Reserve your space for this FREE EVENT by calling 612-236-1771 or emailing mwells@minnesotacompadvisor.com today.


The Addiction Epidemic - Your New Focus for Workplace Safety

Written by on 1/25/2017 3:54 AM in , , , , . It has 0 Comments.


Addiction in the workplace knows no bounds, spanning all ages, races, and socioeconomic groups. Millions suffer the effects of legal and illegal drugs, with an estimated 20.8 million living with substance abuse disorders ranging from tobacco and alcohol to opioids. Unfortunately, only a fraction are being treated. Despite the fact that a similar number of people are suffering diabetes and cancer combined, there's nowhere near the same level of attention or resources being allotted to addiction disorders.

Paying the price
Presently, more Americans are using opioids than tobacco and one-in-five binge drink. The result? Alcohol’s economic tolls rack up an estimated $249 billion in costs; drugs another $193 billion. Substance abuse disorders cost the US more than $420 billion per year in health care costs, lost economic productivity, and cost to the justice system.

A brain disease, not a character flaw
Previously believed to be a disease of choice, substance abuse is a chronic illness that must be treated with the appropriate compassion and urgency. These disorders actually alter brain chemistry, affecting the reward and stress response systems, and reducing decision-making capacities.

Intervention
Luckily, evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies exist for addressing multiple substance use disorders. Solutions that work and change peoples’ lives. From online to in-person intervention, programs are available that increase awareness of misuse, help individuals better manage stress – a prime reason for turning to these substances – and even help those who treat and manage the abuse and addiction disorders.

Protect your employees and your future. Step-up and implement treatment and prevention programs, and start fighting the risks of addiction in the workplace. Learn how with Minnesota Comp Advisor today.


Will Changes to the Overtime Rules Impact Your Workplace for the Better or Worse?

Written by on 1/23/2017 3:00 AM in , , , , . It has 0 Comments.


Employee management tips can be hard to implement when you don’t know whether certain legislation is coming or going. At the end of November, a federal judge blocked an Obama executive order that attempted to extend overtime pay to more than 4 million salaried workers. With a possible appeal by his Department of Labor sure to follow – and newly-elected President Trump waiting in the wings – it’s anyone’s guess whether the order will become law.

The proposed plan:
President Obama’s Labor Administration rule was to take effect December 1st, effectively doubling the salary cap a worker can earn and remain eligible for mandatory overtime - up to a $47,500 maximum. If passed, it would have been the first significant change in decades, touching nearly every sector of the U.S. economy.

The block:
Twenty-one states and a coalition of business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, filed a motion claiming the rule was unlawful. U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant agreed, ruling the federal law governing overtime does not allow the Labor Department to decide which workers are eligible based on salary alone.

Citing The Fair Labor Standards Act, employees can be exempt from overtime if they perform executive, administrative or professional duties. The judge thus granted their motion for a nationwide injunction.

Stalled out
The Labor Department disagrees, maintaining the entire rule is legal, and continues to weigh its options. Specifically: Whether to appeal a motion that could ultimately be undone by President Trump after his inauguration.

Business legislation upheaval giving you a post-election headache? Minnesota Comp Advisor has the news, tools, and employee management tips to help you survive. Contact us today.


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