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America’s Opioid Epidemic and Workplace Injuries:  How Employers and Insurance Companies Can Work Together to Combat Addiction

Posted by Michelle Landver, CIC on October 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM

The opioid epidemic in America has become so severe that not a day goes by without hearing stories or reading about it in the news. For employers, opioid addiction has has a huge negative impact on the workplace and workforce.

opioids.jpgMany workers who are injured on the job and are treated within the workers’ compensation system are prescribed opioids for pain management[1]. In an effort to reduce claims and costs, insurance carriers are introducing new solutions to combat opioid addiction.

In 2015, Travelers established the Early Severity Predictor model, which cut the use of opioids in over 500,000 injured employees by 30% and has helped employers reduce medical claims expenses by up to 50%[2]. The model works by identifying the likelihood that someone will develop chronic pain, a leading cause of opioid dependency. Travelers shares the results with the injured employee’s physician, helping them to identify effective treatment alternatives in order to avoid opioids.  The insurer’s claims handling professionals can also use this information to evaluate requests for prescription payments.

Employers can also take a proactive approach to help address opioid addiction among their employees, particularly around work-related injuries, by doing the following: 

  • Ensure that counseling programs are available to employees, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
  • Monitor claims with your insurance broker to encourage alternative treatments.
  • Require routine drug screenings, which could help catch abuse issues sooner.

As the effects of this national crisis continue to unfold, we expect to see more insurance companies and employers getting more involved in how injured employees are treated and cared for.

 

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2016/04/06/travelers-focuses-on-chronic-pain-opioid-use

[2] http://www.workcompwire.com/2017/08/travelers-injured-employee-opioid-use-cut-by-30-percent-since-2015/

 

Topics: Property + Casualty, Market Trends, Workers' Compensation

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