News Roundup: 2016 Best Blogs, NCCI State of the Line, Opioids & More

May 9th, 2016 by Julie Ferguson Best Blog Designees for 2016 – We’re pleased and honored to have been named to the Best Blog Designees for 2016 and a huge part of the honor is the company that we keep: the roster of 22 blogs named to this year’s list are must-reads for our industry. The announcement notes: “They were judged on several criteria. In addition to objective categories such as age of blog, frequency of posting and website traffic, they were also assessed by an independent judging panel for content quality, value and timeliness.” We thank the judges and those who nominated us! Read Bob Wilson to learn more about the process and the judges: Some Final Thoughts on the Best Blogs Experience

‘Transforming’ Workers Compensation Industry Presenting New Challenges, According to NCCI State of the Line

This year’s State of the Line report indicates that the workers compensation Calendar Year 2015 combined ratio for private carriers was 94%. This is a six-point decline when compared with the 2014 combined ratio. Total market net written premium increased by almost 3% to $45.5 billion, driven primarily by an increase in payroll.

Other market indicators and trends highlighted in NCCI’s 2016 State of the Line report include:
–The overall reserve position for private carriers improved in 2015. NCCI estimates the year-end 2015 reserve position to be a $7 billion deficiency—down from $10 billion in 2014. –Estimated reserve redundancy in Accident Year 2015 accounts for much of this reduction.
–Average lost-time claim frequency across NCCI states declined by 3% in 2015.
–In NCCI states, the preliminary 2015 accident year average indemnity cost per lost-time claim increased by 1% relative to the corresponding 2014 value. For medical, the preliminary average cost per lost-time claim decreased by 1% relative to that observed in 2014.
–The workers compensation residual market pool premium volume remained flat between 2014 and 2015, and the average residual market share remained stable at 8%. The latest NCCI data shows that total residual market premium declined in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the first quarter of 2015.

Related: Read Joe Paduda’s report from the NCCI annual conference and his highlights and key take-aways from the 2016 report.

Don’t Stand By
David DePaolo, DePaolo’s Work Comp World

Earlier this year WorkCompCentral published “The Uncompensated Worker: Financial Impact of Work Comp on Households” which reviewed from a very broad perspective the effect an industrial injury has on the prototypical American blue collar worker, “Tim.”

Today we release follow up reports on Kentucky and Florida. Each report compares two different injured workers – one who has a relatively minor work injury and the other a more severe lost time injury. The data used to build these profiles is readily available, the outcomes shocking.

U.S. Health Care Prices Are All Over the Map, New Study Finds
Maggie Fox, NBC News

Why does a knee replacement cost $29,000 in Kansas but $40,000 in next-door Colorado?

Health care prices are all over the map in the U.S., a new study finds. It digs deeply into the crazy pattern of health costs across the U.S. and shows there is very little consistency.

The report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) finds prices for the same procedures vary by sometimes huge amounts — even within the same state.

Managing Service Providers
Roberto Ceniceros, Risk & Insurance

Uncovering inconsistencies in an insurer’s or third party administrator’s service performance can ultimately strengthen an employer’s partnerships with the organizations managing injured-worker claims.

Advocates of independent reviews maintain that vendor management quality assurance audits conducted by independent reviewers can reveal weaknesses that impact an employer’s workers’ compensation program.

Yet other observers argue that independent quality assurance audits are becoming a thing of the past and their value diminishing.

Still, about 25 percent of self-insured employers and those with large deductibles seek the audits, said Dan Marshall, chief claims officer U.S. at Aon.

“It is only the most sophisticated buyers that want to look under the hood, so to speak, and get a gauge of the performance of claims service providers,” he said.

Because What We Really Need Right Now… Is Another Opioid
Michael Gavin, Evidence Based

A twice-daily, extended release, abuse deterrent formulation of oxycodone, to be exact. And just in time, too. I was becoming concerned that FDA’s recent commitment to take a new approach to the opioid crisis might have actually been genuine. I guess you can’t have too much of a good thing.

The trade name you’ll want to look out for is Xtampza ER. And no, I didn’t misspell it. Wondering how to pronounce it? Your guess is as good as mine. The pharma industry appears to be running low on catchy, hip drug names with the letters “x” and “z” that play well in the market.

‘You Want a Description of Hell?’ OxyContin’s 12-Hour Problem
Harriet Ryan, Lisa Girion, and Scott Glover, The Los Angeles Times

Before OxyContin, doctors had viewed narcotic painkillers as dangerously addictive and primarily reserved their long-term use for cancer patients and the terminally ill. Purdue envisioned a bigger market.

“We do not want to niche OxyContin just for cancer pain,” a marketing executive explained to employees planning the drug’s debut, according to minutes of the 1995 meeting.

The company spent $207 million on the launch, doubling its sales force to 600, according to a court declaration. Sales reps pitched the drug to family doctors and general practitioners to treat common conditions such as back aches and knee pain. Their hook was the convenience of twice-a­-day dosing.

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