Is Employer-Directed Medical Care Associated With Decreased Workers’ Compensation Claim Costs?

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Abstract

Background:

The financial impact regarding choice of physician within the workers’ compensation domain has not been well studied.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to assess the difference in claim cost between employee- and employer-directed choice of treating physician after injury.

Methods:

Thirty-five thousand six hundred forty indemnity lost time claims from a 13-year period at a nationwide company were analyzed with multivariate logistic regression to determine the association of medical direction with risk of high-cost claims.

Results:

States that have employer-directed physician choice were associated with a lower risk of having high-cost claims (≥$50,000) but higher attorney involvement than employee direction. The net effect of this enhanced presence of attorneys offsets the benefits of employer choice of treating physician.

Conclusion:

States that permit employer selection of treating physician have slightly higher cost due to the higher prevalence of attorney involvement in the claims process.

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