In general, prescription drug costs account for about 14% of workers’ compensation claims. While the consumption of prescription drugs has declined in recent years, the prices of prescription drugs continue to rise. The number of opioid prescriptions continues to decline as doctors switch to alternative treatments for workplace injuries. There are several increasingly prevalent negative trends that could increase the costs of workers’ compensation claims. The use and price of specialty drugs continues to increase for injured workers. Older worker workers’ compensation claims tend to cost more due to the increase in the price of prescription drugs. Finally, despite the decline in opioid use, injured workers are still too often prescribed unnecessary prescription drugs, which can lead to dangerous health problems and increased complexity of workers’ compensation claims.
The increasing use of prescription drugs poses unique challenges for workers’ compensation programs. A 2020 report from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) determined that prescription drugs made up about 14% of workers’ compensation claims. The report reveals that the price of drugs continues to rise but overall use is declining. Several factors explain this trend. First, drug costs per claim have declined due to lower use by injured workers. Second, prescription drug prices continue to rise, albeit at a slower pace than in recent years. Third, the number of opioid prescriptions continues to decline as doctors research and switch to alternative treatments for pain control.