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Industrial Injury Hospitalizations Billed to Payers Other Than Workers' Compensation: Characteristics and Trends by State

Objective: To describe characteristics of industrial injury hospitalizations, and to test the hypothesis that industrial injuries were increasingly billed to non-workers' compensation (WC) payers over time.

Data Sources: Hospitalization data for 1998–2009 from State Inpatient Databases, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Study Design: Retrospective secondary analyses described the distribution of payer, age, gender, race/ethnicity, and injury severity for injuries identified using industrial place of occurrence codes. Logistic regression models estimated trends in expected payer.

Principal Findings: There was a significant increase over time in the odds of an industrial injury not being billed to WC in California and Colorado, but a significant decrease in New York. These states had markedly different WC policy histories. Industrial injuries among older workers were more often billed to a non-WC payer, primarily Medicare.

Conclusions: Findings suggest potentially dramatic cost shifting from WC to Medicare. This study adds to limited, but mounting evidence that, in at least some states, the burden on non-WC payers to cover health care for industrial injuries is growing, even while WC-related employer costs are decreasing—an area that warrants further research.

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