Workers’ compensation covers employees who suffer often serious and painful injuries on the job. However, that pain from jobsite accidents has created another debilitating problem for American workers.
Addiction to Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet, morphine and other types of Opioids that can be equally career threatening and potentially life ending.
According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.8 million private industry workers and 752,000 public sector employees suffered nonfatal injuries in 2015. Half of those accidents resulted in time away from work.
A survey from CompPharma, an industry group seeking to control workers’ compensation spending, expenditures on Opioids cost workers compensation insurers $1.5 billion in 2015. Prescriptions accounted for 13 percent of total Opioid pharmacy costs in the United States for that year.
The Workers Compensation Research Institute studied 337,000 workers’ compensation claims in 25 states. The independent group found that 55 to 85 percent of injured workers who missed work for seven days or more were prescribed Opioids at least once.
States throughout the country are recognizing problems that stem from injured workers being prescribed. The New York workers’ compensation board announced that it would allow hearings by insurers to determine if claimants should be weaned off addictive painkillers. Ohio issued new rules to deny reimbursement for Opioid prescriptions if they are following “best medical practices” in prescribing Opioids to injured workers.
What has evolved from the stereotype of people shooting up in back alleys now affects everyday workers come from all walks of life. Upon recovering from injuries and returning to work, far too many suffer an ongoing dependency to powerful painkillers.