Data Show Rising Workers’ Comp Medical Costs in New Hampshire

May 22, 2014

In the world of workers’ compensation, the fees charged by the health care community are significantly more expensive on average in New Hampshire than in other states, according to the New Hampshire insurance department.

“Medical costs in New Hampshire have grown to almost 75 percent of total workers’ compensation dollars in New Hampshire, compared to about 60 percent countrywide,” said Deb Stone, actuary and director of market regulation at the insurance department.

“It’s my belief, based on actuarial analysis, that the lack of limitation on what can be charged by medical providers and facilities is a major contributor to this trend,” Stone said.

New Hampshire went from being listed as the 14th most expensive state for workers’ compensation coverage in the country in 2008 to the 9th most expensive in 2012, according to the Oregon Workers Compensation Rate Ranking Study.

Physicians’ Services

On average, workers’ compensation surgical procedures in New Hampshire are 83 percent more expensive than those in the region including Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and more than twice as expensive compared to 35 states across the country, according to data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance. In total, the data included four categories of physician services: surgical, radiology, physical and occupational therapies, and doctors’ visits.

The insurance department actuaries found that medical costs in New Hampshire exceeded those in surrounding states and the nation by a substantial margin in all four categories.

For radiology, the costs were 35 percent more expensive than in the region and 66 percent more expensive than nationally; for physical and occupational therapies, the costs were 95 percent and 64 percent more expensive, respectively; and for doctors’ visits, costs were 36 percent and 47 percent more expensive. The data represent the most common procedures comprising at least 50 percent of the total dollars spent by workers’ compensation insurance companies on physician services.

“New Hampshire is more expensive, not only on average, but for every single individual physicians’ services procedure reviewed, save one,” said New Hampshire’s Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “We are among the most expensive states for workers’ compensation, and it makes it more costly for businesses to operate here.”

Facilities

On average, the costs for surgical procedures at ambulatory surgical centers in New Hampshire are 37 percent more expensive than the surrounding region and 77 percent more expensive than countrywide, the insurance department said.

Also, on average, hospital outpatient surgical procedures cost 15 percent more in New Hampshire than in the region and 25 percent more than countrywide.

Further, in cases where the same procedure may be performed either as a hospital outpatient procedure or in an ambulatory surgical center, the data show that the cost in the ambulatory surgical center is generally more — in some instances as much as twice as expensive, or even higher.

For hospital outpatient non‐surgery procedures, New Hampshire is 51 percent more expensive than both the surrounding region and countrywide on average, the data show.

The insurance department said New Hampshire is one of just six states that do not have legal guidelines in place to cap the amount that health care providers can charge workers’ compensation insurance companies for services.

In addition, the department said, the current state law (RSA 281‐A:24 I) mandates that workers’ compensation insurance “shall pay the full amount of the health care provider’s bill.”

Source: New Hampshire Insurance Department

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