Managed Care and Workers’ Compensation – 5 Priorities of an Effective MCO

Date: May 03, 2021

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is conducting an Open Enrollment period during the month of May, and employers have this short period to select a managed care organization (MCO) to provide medical management services in workers’ compensation claims.  NFIB works with Sedgwick Managed Care Ohio – formerly CareWorks – and we place great value on this relationship, as with the NFIB members we serve. 

“Medical management” can be a rather vague description of the MCO role, but the impact an MCO can make is substantial.  Your MCO is your partner to help resolve a claim, and to assist your injured employee in navigating the workers’ compensation system and medical treatment process.  We encourage full engagement and open dialogue from all parties involved in a claim in an effort to facilitate appropriate treatment, a safe return-to-work, and ultimate closure of the claim.  Here are 5 key areas that make your MCO an extremely valuable resource for employers and their injured employees. 

  1. Post injury management

An employer’s initial reaction to their employee after an injury is a key moment.  Following an organized game plan fosters trust and cooperation.  A chaotic atmosphere can lead an injured employee elsewhere for direction.  An MCO should help employers prepare to address these three things immediately after an injury:

  1. Initial medical treatment – Know the available options in the area. Have contact information to call ahead and make sure the employee has safe transportation.
  2. Quick and thorough documentation of the injury – Be prepared to assist in completing an injury report. Facilitate filing a clearly legitimate claim through your MCO.  This will help prevent delays, keeping everyone focused on recovery and return-to-work.
  3. Discuss early return-to-work, Transitional Work options – Establish an expectation for everyone for a quick recovery and return-to-work. Be prepared to make adjustments to facilitate that return. 
  1. Negotiating for early return-to-work

When an injured employee is off work for 8 or more days, lost-time costs accelerate quickly and can threaten future savings opportunities.  A physician’s instinct may involve time off work, but this can be negotiated if employers can demonstrate a safe work environment that facilitates recovery.  Working through the MCO to address Transitional Work options can promote cooperation with treating physicians and lessen exposure to costly lost-time claims.  A formal transitional work policy is an asset because it will outline this process for all parties, and MCOs can help build that infrastructure.

  1. Oversight of medical treatment

Medical treatment for a workers’ compensation injury must be approved through the MCO as appropriate and cost-effective.  A claim’s duration of lost-time is related to the course of medical treatment.  Engaging physicians on treatment decisions and advocating for quality treatment that facilitates early and safe return-to-work is a MCO role.  It is sometimes appropriate to explore alternative approaches to treatment that may yield improved results in both cost and recovery time.  Employers should be involved in this process with their MCO, and should have an understanding of the necessity and value of treatment for their injured employees.

  1. Review of prescription medications

Problems with prescription abuse are well documented.  The cost of excessive medications certainly impacts the cost of a claim, but prescribed medications can also extend lost time simply due to their side-effects, rendering disabled an otherwise able body.  MCOs can review medications prescribed through a claim and contest drugs that are not appropriate.  Non-narcotic alternatives can be recommended that may eliminate side-effects that can extend lost-time and related costs.

  1. Scrutiny of medical bills

The actual cost of medical treatment for workers’ compensation claims is usually far lower than the costs associated with lost work days (compensation and reserves).  But it should not be overlooked as a “given”.  Review of medical bills must be scrutinized to ensure accurate payment only for related treatment.  There are often opportunities for significant reductions through the use of universal codes and “bundling” services for efficiency.

Sometimes the key to resolving a claim before it becomes extremely costly is found in the details.  Leveraging resources like the MCO can help prepare employers to minimize costs and preserve premium savings options.  It is important to remain tuned in to the work of the MCO through the claim management process.  Sedgwick Managed Care Ohio is continuously seeking to be a dynamic problem-solving partner for our client employers and facilitate a return to productivity for injured employees.  For more information on Sedgwick Managed Care Ohio and how we can help you and your organization, contact Amber McCulley at 614-79-9244, or by email at

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