March 13, 2017
CWCI Finds High Volume But Low Costs For Work Comp Claims in States Northern Tier
Oakland -- The California Workers' Compensation Institute (CWCI) has issued its 7th Regional Score Card, providing data on claims filed by workers from California’s nine northernmost counties for job injuries that occurred between 2005 and 2015. The Scorecard analyzed data from 63,000 claims that resulted in $738 million in payments for medical and indemnity (lost-time) benefits and found that residents of Del Norte, Humboldt, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Trinity Counties accounted for 1.1% of the state’s workforce, but 3.3% of the job injury claims. Compared to other regions, however, Northern County claims had lower average costs, so they consumed just 2.2% of the state’s total workers’ comp paid losses.
CWCI found that 70.6% of claims from the Northern Counties were filed by men – well above the rate in the rest of the state and the highest level among all 8 regions of California. Given that the area is sparsely populated and heavily forested, agricultural workers (including those in ranching, forestry, fishing, and hunting) filed nearly a quarter of the claims (four times the proportion in other regions) with construction workers accounting for another 13.5%. Strains represented a relatively large share of the claims, as did specific injury categories such as foreign bodies, punctures, lacerations and fractures, which likely reflects the blue collar workforce. As in other regions, minor wounds and injuries to the skin were the leading diagnoses, followed by strains and sprains of the back, shoulder, arm, knee and lower leg, but claims for degenerative, infective, and metabolic joint disorders were also more prevalent and consumed nearly 15% paid losses in the region vs. 8.3% in other regions. Overall, employers and claims administrators were notified of the injuries and initial treatment began sooner in the Northern Counties than in other regions; and the claims had lower attorney involvement rates, fewer medical visits, lower rates of permanent disability, and shorter durations.
The Regional Score Card features two dozen exhibits with data and commentary on a wide range of metrics including distributions of claims by industry; premium size; claim type; nature and cause of injury; and diagnosis. Several exhibits, including the percentage of claims with permanent disability; attorney involvement rates; claim closure rates; top medications dispensed; breakdowns of medical development by Fee Schedule Section at 12 and 24 months; network utilization; notice and treatment time lags; and 12-, 24- and 36-month loss development tables compare results for the region against those for all other regions, and many also show statewide results, offering a wealth of detailed data on workers’ comp claims both for the region and for the entire state. Score Cards are available to CWCI members and subscribers who log on to http://www.cwci.org/. Others may purchase individual Score Cards by visiting CWCI's online Store. The final Score Card in the series will focus on claims from the Sierras, encompassing much of the Gold Country and the mountainous areas that border Nevada from north of Lake Tahoe south to Death Valley.