Austin, TX – Injured workers in Texas have better access to physicians who can treat them more quickly than they did 15 years ago, according to a September 2016 study by the Texas Department of Insurance’s Research and Evaluation Group (REG). The study found 84 percent of injured workers received initial care in seven days or less in 2015, compared to 76 percent in 2000.
“That’s significant because improved timeliness means workers have a much better chance of getting back to work, and the cost for their care will be much lower,” said Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Ryan Brannan.
The study measures the effectiveness of the workers’ compensation system to deliver timely and appropriate medical care to injured employees. It found that injured workers who aren’t treated within seven days have an average of about 40 percent more in medical costs over the first six months of an injury. In 2015, about half of injured workers saw a physician in one day or less. The average wait was 4.5 days.
“In terms of timeliness, when REG’s results are compared to the NCCI study of 35 states, Texas appears to be among the faster states.” Brannan said. “We have ongoing recruiting efforts to increase physician participation, and any issues with physician access are primarily due to a low number of physicians practicing in specific areas, not a low rate of physicians treating workers’ compensation patients in Texas.”
The number of physicians in Texas who treated injured workers increased 6 percent from 2000 to 2015. During that same period, there was an 11 percent drop in the number of workers’ compensation claims filed.
The decrease in claims also means injured workers in most of the state have options when searching for a physician.
In 2000, each physician who participated in workers’ compensation treated an average of 21 patients. By 2015, that figure had dropped to 15, a decrease of 26 percent.
Click here for the study: TDI: Access to Medical Care in the Texas Workers’ Compensation System, 2000–2015 (PDF)