Medical costs due to workplace injuries are increasing, even twenty years after the injury occurs.
A study by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), found that 10 percent of the cost of medical benefits for workplace injuries that occur this year will be before services provided more than two decades in the future. And the cost for long term future treatments is more likely to grow.
The patients who are still being treated for job-related injuries suffered more than twenty years ago are predominantly male- they made up 71 percent of the claimants treated late-term. Deteriorating medical conditions was not a cost factor- in fact most claimants younger than 60 cost more per year.
When compared to twenty years after injury, care provided later has a significantly larger portion of costs going towards prescription medications, supplies, home health services, and the maintenance of implants, orthotics, and prosthetics. The greatest cost increase was payments for prescription drugs. For medical services provided within twenty years after an injury, they only accounted for 9 percent of the costs.
For services provided after the twenty year benchmark, however, drugs accounted for a whopping 38 percent of medical costs. In particular, opioid chronic pain medications accounted for a large share of those drug costs. This could be associated with a growing concern of the use of opioids as pain management. The use of opioid for long term chronic pain also increases the risk of addiction, which can delay and harm an individual’s health and in some cases prolong their injuries.
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