Injured workers in Georgia wait longer to receive the first workers'' compensation benefits check, compared to most states analyzed in a study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI).
The study of eight states, representing 40 percent of the nation''s workers'' compensation benefits, also found that compared to the other states in the study, in Georgia both litigation and defense attorney fees are higher and medical cost containment services are used more frequently.
Other states included in the WCRI study were California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas.
"Georgia has opportunities for better system performance by improving the timeliness of delivering initial benefit payments to injured workers," said Dr. Richard Victor, executive director of the Cambridge, Mass.-based WCRI. "In addition, the role of attorneys needs greater attention."
The study provides also provides comparisons of key performance measures, such as benefit payments, claim costs, benefit delivery expense, and timeliness of payments and notice.
Georgia lagged behind the other states in speed of initial benefit payments to injured workers, with only 50 percent receiving payment within 14 days of injury notice.
The average of the eight states was 58 percent, with Massachusetts leading the states with 72 percent.
Medical cost containment techniques are frequently applied in Georgia, according to the study.
At least one such service -- such as medical bill review, case management or a preferred provider network -- was found in 85 percent of indemnity claims. The eight state average was 78 percent.
And the average medical cost containment expense in Georgia was lower than average at $412 per claim versus $492, the average across all states.
by Virginia Sutcliffe