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Comp inpatient stays, pharmaceutical prescriptions drop: NCCI

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ORLANDO – The workers compensation system has seen a 34% drop in inpatient hospital stays for injured workers since 2012, researchers with the National Council on Compensation Insurance said Tuesday.

“This is a national phenomenon,” said Raji Chadarevian, the NCCI’s executive director of actuarial research, at the organization’s Annual Insights Symposium,.

Inpatient stays are becoming less frequent as more injured workers who require surgery are having procedures done at ambulatory surgery centers, which have seen an influx in comp patients during the past several years.  

Hospital stays have also seen significant cost increases, with the average cost for one day in the hospital rising from $5,700 in 2012 to $8,500 in 2023, said Jon Sinclair, director and actuary with the NCCI.

“These stays are essential to understanding our story,” Mr. Sinclair said.

Pharmaceutical prescriptions, another workers comp cost driver, have been falling since 2012, and estimates for future liabilities for drugs in comp settlements have been “significantly dropping,” Mr. Chadarevian said.

Not all drug types are decreasing — prescriptions for topical creams and gels have increased 96% since 2012, he said.

“This is certainly one type of drug to keep an eye on moving forward,” Mr. Sinclair said.

NCCI attributes the decrease in drug costs to fewer opioids being prescribed to injured workers and the shift to generic drugs from name brands.