Opioids are the biggest problem facing workers' compensation today. This was the message Joseph Paduda, principal of Health Strategy Associates and author of www.ManagedCareMatters.com, delivered at the California Workers' Compensation Institute's (CWCI) annual meeting in San Francisco last week.
“This is such an inherently huge problem that if we don't get our arms around it, it is going to eat the industry alive”
"This is such an inherently huge problem that if we don't get our arms around it, it is going to eat the industry alive," Paduda said. "Few insurers or employers really know how much opioids are going to add to their costs, and most may well be under-reserved."
Paduda said that after six months of opioid use there is much higher risk of addiction, declination of functioning, destruction of health, extension of disability, and risk of death from overdose. This damages families and harms society, while increasing employers' and taxpayers' costs. Yet most payers don't have well-thought-out approaches to address claimants that have been taking opioids for months.
"Joe Paduda has a unique position and perspective on the business end of the national workers' compensation system and offers up an unvarnished, sometimes provocative viewpoint that deserves our attention," said CWCI's President Alex Swedlow.
Paduda also noted the impact of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will likely lead to tight access to specific specialty providers between 2014 and 2016, however PPACA's impact on workers' comp is generally positive due to healthier employees and less need for providers to shift cost to work comp claimants.
Health Strategy Associates