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Medical payments for injured workers in Louisiana were higher and growing faster than in most states, with payments per claim increasing more than 7% per year from 2006 to 2011, according to a study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based WCRI on Tuesday said average hospital outpatient payments per claim in Louisiana were $8,075 in the latest year of the study, more than $6,000 higher than California — the state with the lowest average hospital outpatient payments per claim — and more than $3,000 higher than the median for 16 states studied by the institute.
At $1,182, Louisiana also had the highest prescription payments per claim among the states studied by 2008. Due to a higher number of prescriptions per claim and a higher-than-average price per pill, among other factors, prescription payments per claim in Louisiana were more than double the median of $512 for 17 states studied.
By the study's last year, prices for prescriptions dispensed by Louisiana physicians were 168% to 182% higher than Louisiana pharmacy prices for tramadol, cyclobenzaprine and meloxicam, three of the most commonly prescribed medications in workers comp cases by the study's latest year.
The WCRI noted that Louisiana's workers comp fee schedule sets reimbursement for hospital outpatient services at 90% of billed charges. A recent WCRI study found that states like Louisiana that have a percent-of-charge-based fee schedule, or no fee schedule, had higher costs than most states that have fixed amounts.