Study: Texas Workers Comp medical costs stabilize after decreases

Published: 2010-11-12 20:22:19
Author: Elizabeth Bassett | Fort Worth Business Press | November 10, 2010

A study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute found the medical costs per workers’ compensation claim in Texas stabilized in 2007 after four years of decreases.

The WCRI, based in Cambridge, Mass., found payments per claim to physicians were stable and payments to chiropractors and physical/occupational therapists continue to fall, but payments to hospitals were rising, particularly for inpatient care.

The four years of decreases in Texas medical costs per claim are credited to House Bill 2600, passed in 2001, and House Bill 7, passed in 2005, along with increased payor focus and effort on managing medical care, according to the study.

In 2001, the medical costs per claim were among the highest of state included in the study, and by 2007 (evaluated in 2008), medical costs per claim were 19 percent lower for claims with more than seven days of lost time when compared to the median state.

Medical payments per claim to physicians declined 22 percent overall from 2002 to 2006 and showed little change in 2007. The decline was in part the result of a drop in office visits, and the lower fee schedule from House Bill 2600 led to decreases in prices paid for most nonhospital services. However, the decreases were partially was offset by more complex office visits being billed. Texas still had more office visits per claim than the typical state in 2007, though, at about eight visits compared to six in the median study state.

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