Tactics to Bring down North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Costs

January 28, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Elevated North Carolina Workers’ Compensation costs concern everyone in the “employment ecosystem” – small business owners, employees, government agencies, insurance companies, and physicians alike. To bring down costs across the board, however, requires a holistic approach to problem solving. In this article, we will speculate about remedies that could be applied throughout this “ecosystem” – at little to no cost to employers, insurers, or employees.

1. Put in place systematic solutions to common workplace ergonomic problems.
How many North Carolina workers’ compensation cases begin at the keyboard? Carpel tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress injuries, and other soft tissue injuries abound in North Carolina – many of them no doubt due to bad workstation ergonomics. An employer can mitigate against risk of repetitive stress injuries by investing in more economic keyboards, for instance, more tailored workstations, and a program of regular breaks and stressing. The cost of such a proactive “war” against repetitive stress injuries would be minimal, and the benefits would no doubt be long lasting. Workers who are not exhausted from keyboarding and other repetitive tasks can work longer hours (thus making up any theoretical costs of ergonomic modifications). Fewer injuries would mean lower North Carolina Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums.

2. Better Alert and Response System to Control North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Fraud.
As the old saying goes, a few bad apples can spoil the bunch. Everyone loses when people cheat the system. But how do you get people the stop cheating? This is the $64,000 question. Better monitoring of claims might be a theoretically good solution, but when you incentivize insurance companies to look for fraud, these companies inevitably will turn up “false positives.” I.e., they will harass people who are legitimately injured – trying to get them to admit that they are not actually hurt. This is obviously terrible, and it results in many tragedies, some of which we have reported on this blog.

A better solution might be to build in a more robust tracking system to make sure that claimants stay honest. In addition, insurance companies and employers must recognize and respect the claimants who are actually hurt and go the extra mile to help them.

3. Involve physicians in more holistic patient care.
The fractured approach to patient healthcare no doubt exacerbates many medical problems. If a patient sees four doctors, chances are that each physician will require separate paperwork, and that the doctors will not communicate with one another about the patient. This needs to change. Implement across the board holistic treatment for injured patients, and we will see much better health care. This is obviously an enormous task. But if we really want to bring down North Carolina Workers’ Compensation costs, we need to start treating patients as whole people — and not just as carriers of individual symptoms they present with.

4. Better, more thorough and more regular data analysis of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation cases.

Organizations like the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) and other government agencies do track serious injuries and deaths at NC workplaces. But the amount of data that’s mined and shared about these accidents is extremely small, maybe even negligible, compared with what could be mined. We need to gather much more information – much more detailed analyses of various injuries and incidents. We must be able to share that information not only with government agencies, insurance companies, and fellow employers, but also with employees.
Do this kind of analysis, and we will no doubt be amazed at the kind of improvisations and “band-aid” solutions that emerge.

If you or somebody you love has been hurt or needs help with North Carolina Workers’ Compensation issues, connect with a qualified veteran attorney near you for a confidential consultation.