New WCRI Study Helps Policymakers Monitor Changes in Prices Paid for Medical Care of Injured Workers in 31 States

As policymakers and system stakeholders in many states debate rising medical costs, the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) released a new study today that helps monitor changes in prices paid for medical professional services as well as the impact of fee schedule and network changes on price trends.

The study, WCRI Medical Price Index for Workers’ Compensation, Ninth Edition (MPI-WC), tracks medical prices paid in 31 states over a nine-year span from 2008 to 2016 for professional services billed by physicians, physical therapists, and chiropractors. The medical services fall into eight groups: evaluation and management, physical medicine, surgery, major radiology, minor radiology, neurological testing, pain management injections, and emergency care.

“If you are a policymaker or other stakeholder and want to understand the growth of medical prices in workers’ compensation, you would benefit from this study,” said Ramona Tanabe, WCRI’s executive vice president and counsel. “If you are in one of the many states that implemented fee schedule changes recently or are considering such changes in the future, this study shows how certain policy initiatives impact medical prices.”

New in this edition is a discussion of the impact of recent fee schedule changes on prices in North Carolina and Colorado between 2015 and 2016. Below are key findings from these two states. Other states with major fee schedule changes from earlier years are also discussed in this study.

  • North Carolina implemented new fee schedule rates for professional services in July 2015. This study found that the overall prices paid for professional services in the state increased 18 percent from 2014 to 2016, while prices in most other fee schedule states changed…

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