The Workers' Compensation Research and Evaluation Group (WCREG) published its 2009 workers' compensation network report card results. Average medical costs in networks were once again higher than non-networks. Networks tended to have higher utilization of professional services and pharmaceuticals than non-networks. Networks tended to have lower utilization of hospital services.
Non-network injured employees tended to report higher levels of access to medical care. Injured workers were more satisfied with non-network care than with network care. Injured workers in non-network settings reported faster care and higher satisfaction with their treating doctors than did network injured workers. However, network injured workers tended to report higher return to work rates than non-network injured workers.
Network injured workers reported higher physical functioning scores than non-network injured workers. Mental functioning scores of network injured workers were also higher than non-network injured workers.
Some commentators suggest the higher medical costs result in better outcomes. Others argue network doctors simply return injured workers back to work with greater frequency but prescribe more professional services and pharmaceuticals.