NCCI Releases Part 4 of Inflation and Workers Compensation Medical Costs – Prescription Drugs


WHAT: This last installment of NCCI’s series on inflation and workers compensation (WC) medical costs focuses on changes in drug costs and, in particular, how changes in opioid prescribing have impacted those cost trends. The study explains how these shifts in prescribing patterns contributed to changes in WC medical costs.


  • From 2012 to 2021, the average drugs-paid cost per claim decreased about 2.6% per year.
  • The annual reduction in drug payment per claim varied across four regions, ranging from 2.0% in the Southeastern region to 3.9% in the Western region.
  • The price of prescription drugs grew at an annual rate of 3.7%, only to be offset by a 6.0% decline in the type and number of prescriptions.
  • Opioid claims1 saw the largest decrease in drug costs, largely due to a reduction in both opioid and nonopioid prescriptions.
  • Countrywide (CW), of claims with at least one prescription, the share of these that also had at least one opioid decreased from 55% in 2012 to 26% in 2022.

WHO: The report, “Inflation and Workers Compensation and Medical Costs – Prescription Drugs”, is authored by Raji Chadarevian – Executive Director – Actuarial Research, David Colon – Assistant Actuary, and Amelia Carroll – Actuarial Consultant.

MORE DETAILS: This is the final of four installments in NCCI’s series on inflation and workers compensation medical costs. This installment explores price and utilization trends in drug costs, and how each contributes to workers compensation costs in four US geographical regions. This article also provides state-specific results.

HOW TO ACCESS THIS REPORT: The full report can be accessed on NCCI’s website using this link: Inflation and Workers Compensation Medical Costs—Prescription Drugs (

FOR MORE ON INFLATION AND WC: Check out parts 1-3 of the series:

Inflation and Workers Compensation Medical Costs—Overall Medical

Inflation and Workers Compensation Medical Costs—Facility Services

Inflation and Workers Compensation Medical Costs – Physician Services

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