worker's compensation form February 14, 2018
Workers’ Compensation Issues to Watch in 2018

Workers’ Comp Lawyers Serving Clients in Indiana

Each year, workers’ compensation goes through changes that either positively or negatively affect workers that exercise their right to benefits. Whether you are already injured, or you just want to stay up with the legislative changes concerning your rights, here are some compensation issues that might happen in 2018.

Top Indianapolis Workers’ Compensation Issues for 2018 to Keep an Eye On

The law is always evolving, and federal as well as state laws impact workers’ compensation in Illinois. While some of these issues are speculation, others are already starting to show in 2018.

The Impact of Mental Health in Workers’ Compensation

Typically, injuries or illnesses that arise out of a job are covered by workers’ compensation. Some employees may suffer mental illness from work, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These illnesses should be covered under worker’s compensation insurance, including PTSD and other conditions that arise from a demanding job.

In the past, it was difficult to receive benefits, even though mental illness is technically covered. With more awareness about mental health, more workers’ compensation insurance programs will cover treatments for mental health, such as counseling or medication – if it is work-related.

Elements of Mental Health Claims

Some states may require that in the workers’ compensation claim, the employee provide proof that they meet elements for compensation. First, they may need a diagnosis of a mental disorder and show that the disorder caused them to become disabled from working. The primary cause of the psychological injury must be tied to the job – and not have a reasonable explanation for out of the job. Also, if that position is not one that causes a mental health condition, it may be harder to prove.

Evolving Trends for Pain Management and Opioid Use Among Injured Workers

The most significant issue right now for injured workers and workers’ compensation insuran+ce is the long-term use of opioids and the opioid epidemic plaguing the country. There is a high-volume of workers who are currently taking opioids for more than six months for work-related injuries.

The issues surrounding opioid use have been a problem for some time, but now with more public awareness and government programs regulating opioid use, it is likely to cause a few hiccups in 2018.

Some claimants who are addicted to opioids are not going back to work; therefore, there are a high volume of claims that will continue to increase employer costs, taxpayer costs, and add to the overall workers’ compensation budget.

Another concern is that over-prescribing opioids are leading to an increase in heroin and other similar drug addictions among injured workers. The workers’ compensation industry has been slow to respond to the opioid epidemic, but now with government interference, it is likely that 2018 will see more regulations. Workers’ compensation may set guidelines for their prescription, monitor physician prescriptions more closely, and seek alternatives to opioids to treat chronic pain conditions among workers.

Another concern is that over-prescribing opioids are leading to an increase in heroin and other similar drug addictions among injured workers. The workers’ compensation industry has been slow to respond to the opioid epidemic, but now with government interference, it is likely that 2018 will see more regulations. Workers’ compensation may set guidelines for their prescription, monitor physician prescriptions more closely, and seek alternatives to opioids to treat chronic pain conditions among workers.

Telemedicine and Digital Health

Telehealth is becoming a staple in today’s healthcare system. Patients can now schedule and see a doctor without leaving their home, receive a prescription, and conduct follow up appointments.

In the past, workers’ compensation has not allowed for digital health and telemedicine, but with evolving technology, the industry may start to allow follow-up appointments through telemedicine appointments. This allows physicians to accept more workers’ compensation patients but also reduces costs for the employee.

Cheaper Insurance Premiums – Creating Less Benefits

Workers’ compensation rates may decrease for 2018, which may be a relief to employers who have been dealing with premium hikes. According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, a proposed rate of 9.6 percent for workers’ compensation premiums is on the table, and the proposal may decrease, or increase based on state-based hearings.

While it lowers the cost for business owners who pay the premiums each year, the rates would then limit fees paid to injured workers – especially attorneys working for injured workers.

When fewer attorneys are willing to help employees injured on the job seek compensation, many injured workers will have to negotiate settlements on their own and may find that they receive much less than they deserve.

Cheaper Insurance Premiums – Creating Less Benefits

Workers’ compensation rates may decrease for 2018, which may be a relief to employers who have been dealing with premium hikes. According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, a proposed rate of 9.6 percent for workers’ compensation premiums is on the table, and the proposal may decrease, or increase based on state-based hearings.

While it lowers the cost for business owners who pay the premiums each year, the rates would then limit fees paid to injured workers – especially attorneys working for injured workers.

When fewer attorneys are willing to help employees injured on the job seek compensation, many injured workers will have to negotiate settlements on their own and may find that they receive much less than they deserve.

Healthcare Reform May Cause Potential Issues

Healthcare reform has not happened, but it is something that may occur with the new administration. While healthcare reform will certainly affect medical care and the volume of medical care provided in the country, the provisions that are proposed in the acts may also affect workers’ compensation. Changes may affect financial incentives for employees, and medical procedure costs may be increased; thus, increasing the cost of workers’ compensation.

Changes to Treatment Guidelines

Workers compensation uses medical treatment and work-returning guidelines. However, more guidelines may be embedded into the medical system for nurses, physicians, and claims adjusters. Some states already have implemented a variety of instructions, which force physicians to follow treatment guidelines and formularies – all while adopting workers compensation guidelines that are specific to that employee’s industry.

Some proponents of the industry-based guidelines argue that no instructions make the process unpredictable, while others feel that strict guidelines would hinder an employee’s treatment.

Wages and Salaries Going Stagnant in the United States

The average salary for a United States worker increasing has remained steady at 3 percent for 2014, and pay raises are still below the one percentage point of pre-recession levels. Right now, it seems there are still low to moderate wages throughout the country, which means even lower workers’ compensation benefit payouts for those injured on the job.

Meet with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

If you are injured on the job, the last thing you need to worry about is what issues workers’ compensation insurance is facing for 2018. Instead, you need to hire an attorney and explore your options. An attorney protects your rights during a worker’s compensation negotiation and ensures that you receive the compensation you need for medical costs and lost wages.

To get started, speak with an attorney from Jacobs Law, LLC. We offer free, no obligation consultations.