WCRI study looks at medical prices and injured worker outcomes

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A critical look at workers’ compensation and how to improve worker outcomes in Michigan.

Money and Medicine

The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) published a study that looks at the role of medical prices and injured worker outcomes. A concern is that if payments are too low then access to medical care could be impacted resulting in worse outcomes. The study found that when workers’ compensation is made to pay about the same as group health insurance, there is not much difference in duration of temporary disability, access to care, and overall recovery. If workers’ compensation pays higher than group health insurance, there is also not much change in measures of recovery, speed and likelihood of return to work, and duration of temporary disability. The study concludes that other factors may be more important in shaping injured worker outcomes.

This study is fascinating as “cost containment” is a big feature of our workers’ compensation system. Michigan law regulates charges under workers’ compensation using fee schedules. Medical providers get stuck with fixed amounts regardless of their knowledge, experience, or skills. Our experience shows that access to medical care is available, but physician choice can be impacted.

We agree that other factors play a larger role in shaping injured worker outcomes. Uncertainty about weekly checks and poor initial medical care makes things worse for our clients. Treating people with empathy goes a long way to helping them recover and get back to work quickly. Here are some items that could make workers’ compensation better.

Workers’ compensation is supposed to be a safety net for employees who are hurt on-the-job. Unfortunately, fear is a common emotion that our clients experience. It can be overwhelming when they do not know if a paycheck is in the mail. Disabled employees are supposed to receive 80% of their after-tax average weekly wage. This comes out to be about 60% of gross wages. Most people live paycheck-to-paycheck and have a difficult time on less pay. Insurance companies can reduce this amount even more if they believe a disabled employee has a residual wage earning capacity. We have seen clients get their weekly checks slashed using these phantom wages. This is a major flaw with our system that needs to be fixed. A guaranteed minimum weekly benefit can reduce stress and worry.

Michigan law also lets employers select medical providers for the first 28 days. Our clients are frequently sent to industrial clinics where they get less than quality medical care. It is not until they see their own doctor that a proper diagnosis can be made. Delayed treatment can make a condition much worse and slow down recovery time. It is time to end this practice and allow injured workers to select their own doctors from the start of medical care.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 201-9497 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

What is the big deal about fee schedules?

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Author Bio Jeffrey Kaufman

Author
Jeffrey E. Kaufman
Michigan Workers Comp Attorney

Jeffrey E. Kaufman has extensive experience in workers compensation cases and has recovered millions of dollars in benefits for his clients. He believes all injured workers deserve to be on equal footing with insurance companies and employers, and fights tenaciously so their rights are secured and protected.


“Jeff also helped me with getting my Blue Cross bills paid. I would absolutely recommend him and the whole firm. Jeff and the firm did everything they were supposed to do for me and my case.”
Ricardo Perfetto

Hundreds of 5-Star Reviews

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Get Help From our Michigan Workers’ Comp Lawyers Today

You’re not alone. Our Michigan workers’ comp lawyers have been called the best in the state, and our clients love how they’re treated with care, respect, and responsiveness. We will give you the time you need, we will explain your legal rights, and we will always treat you with respect.

Our workers’ compensation and Social Security disability lawyers always put your needs first. Get to know your legal team.

Our attorneys post regularly about common issues related to workers’ comp, including common injuries, settlement calculations, laws, and more.

Injured? It’s Time to Get Some Answers

Don’t let the insurance adjuster push you around. Request your free consultation today.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Our attorneys post regularly about common issues related to workers’ comp, including common injuries, settlement calculations, laws, and more.

Our workers’ compensation and Social Security disability lawyers always put your needs first. Get to know your legal team.