Tips for a Successful Workers Compensation Program
By Velda Sorrentino, Leavitt Group
Many employers grapple with growing workers compensation costs. They feel at the mercy of escalating costs, system delays, bureaucratic red tape, and employees who sometimes take advantage of them.
It is important for employers to know there are measures they can implement to mitigate rising program costs. Knowing what to do and what to look for are key elements to keeping costs at bay.
While legislation can help, many employers do not have the luxury to “wait and see” if their workers compensation environment will get better. In California, for example, legislative changes in workers compensation took place in January 2013. These changes proclaim increases in permanent disability benefits for injured workers and enable cost reductions for employers in other areas. As with any bureaucratic process, it will take time to garner any financial rewards from the legislative process.
However, some employers must take action now for business to remain or become profitable. Improving workers compensation costs entails refining workers compensation protocols as well as creating effective processes and using them consistently.
Develop a cost effective workers compensation programs with these steps:
- When injuries occur, investigate to learn as much detail as possible. Gather information as soon as possible while memories are fresh. Use tools such as a supervisor investigation report or develop a required reporting process for others. Ask questions that will uncover critical information. Share concerns (red flags) with your claim professionals especially any personnel issues involving the employee.
- Report claims in a timely manner. The statute of limitations to accept or deny claims begins with the employer’s “knowledge.” Knowledge begins when someone of authority is made aware that either an injury has occurred or is simply being “alleged” by an employee. It is imperative the claims administrator be aware of statutory time frames for timely administration of benefits or the issuance of denials.
- Build your business acumen to include a first aid program. Paying for incidents that will not impact your experience modification will save an employer thousands in premiums.
- Exercise your right to direct your employees’ medical care to your physicians by use of a medical provider network (MPN). Having a say in who treats an injured employee is one of the most effective ways to control escalating medical costs.
- Embrace a return-to-work philosophy from top management down. Embracing a culture of return-to-work sets a tone that filing a workers compensation claim isn’t a ticket to staying home. Programs that utilize temporary and transitional work (modified or alternative duty) to ease the employee back into the workplace can significantly lower the cost of lost-time wage payments.
- Be open to partnering with vendors who can help accelerate resolution. Nurse case managers can help facilitate timely treatment. Release or transitional work companies can help expand an employer’s options for return-to-work programs. Employers do not have to stand alone in the workers compensation system.
- Show that you care. Employees obtain attorneys when they fear the unknown or feel undervalued. Reach out to see how your employee is doing and exert efforts to bring them back to work as soon as medically possible.
- Communicate with your claim professionals. Stay in the loop regarding your employee’s medical progress. Remain updated on what is next for them, time frame expectations, and the claim’s plan of action. Your efforts can keep parties on task and help facilitate timely resolution.
When employers embrace philosophies similar to the above, we frequently see program costs improve. It is a good feeling when an employer can see positive impacts and is able to fashion success stories of their own. Utilizing as many tools as possible in an employer’s workers compensation arsenal is the key.
To learn more about effectively managing your workers compensation program, contact your Leavitt Group insurance consultant.