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Workers comp road map, communication can cut claims costs

Communication boosts employee retention


CHICAGO — Human resource managers need to communicate their expectations for workers compensation procedures before employees get hurt to reduce comp claims costs.

Margaret Spence, president and CEO of Douglas Claims & Risk Consultants Inc. in West Palm Beach, Fla., said companies should have a written road map that can be used to get employees back to work as soon as possible.

She recommended that such plans include immediate accident investigations and witness statements concerning work-related accidents.

Written return-to-work plans should be displayed for all workers so they're aware of a company's policies after a work accident, she said.

Employees also should be provided with post-accident documents that detail the company's expectations on treatment and returning to modified duties as they recover from an injury.

“Don't give employees the opportunity to say, "I didn't know what to do,'” Ms. Spence said. “Tell them what we expect and how we expect it. Even in states where you don't get to pick the doctor the employee sees, we still get to create the policy around how the employee operates in our workplace.”

She made the comments on workers comp best practices recently during the Society for Human Resource Management's 2013 Annual Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

In a separate conference session, Aflac Inc. President Paul S. Amos II said employers need to educate their employees about health plan changes required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Amos said employers should provide detailed information to workers about how PPACA is changing their benefit structures and premiums, instead of choosing to opt out of providing coverage for employees while paying fines.


“If you believe in your employees and you want to retain them and you believe that you're all about growing your company and corporate culture, I'll tell you that's a bad idea,” Mr. Amos said of choosing not to provide group health benefits under the health care reform law. “Not because I'm not in support of that and not because it's not the right economic decision. It's the wrong decision for recruiting, retaining and employee morale.”

Mr. Amos cited statistics from Aflac's 2013 WorkForces Report, a survey of about 1,900 employers and 5,300 employees. It found that 79% of employees said a well-communicated benefits program would make them less likely to leave their current positions.

Mr. Amos said that 72% of employees were not aware of consumer-driven health plans, while 76% were not knowledgeable about health care exchanges. Meanwhile, only 26% of employers surveyed by Aflac said they fully understand PPACA.

In another presentation, pharmacy management experts said specialty drug costs are expected to account for 67% of prescription benefits spending by 2015, and that employers should monitor how such drugs are being prescribed to their employees.

Gregory Madsen and Michael Staab, co-CEOs of Innovative Rx Strategies L.L.C. in Deerfield, Ill., defined specialty prescriptions as those that cost more than $600 for a 30-day supply, a category that often includes drugs used for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cancer treatment.

Employers should work with specialty pharmacies to distribute specialty medications rather than working with general retail pharmacies for such drugs, Mr. Staab said. Such providers often have pharmacists who can provide guidance to patients about their prescriptions.

Employees should only receive 15 days worth of a specialty prescription when they first receive the medication, Mr. Madsen said. That's because 18% to 20% of patients do not refill their specialty prescriptions after the initial prescription.


By reducing the initial amount, companies can help limit their prescription spending to those employees who plan to keep taking the medications, Mr. Madsen said.

“If you structure your benefit right ... you can lower your initial cost of these things by about 7% to 10%,” Mr. Madsen said.

About 15,000 people attended SHRM's 2013 conference in Chicago. Next year's conference is set for June 22-25, 2014, in Orlando, Fla.