Fewer Workers’ Compensation Claims Not Solely Due to Improved Safety
According to the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, a recent decline in workers’ compensation claims is due in part to improved safety practices in the workplace, but that’s only part of the story. Despite reports by some occupational injury scholars, the reduction of workers’ compensation claims also stems in part from a shift in care providers from workers’ comp doctors to private insurance care providers.
This provides an unclear picture of American industry, making it appear as though workers are safer (and thus aren’t filing injury claims). However, the real truth is that the money is simply being moved around—it’s the same cost for the American worker and insurance companies, only workers’ compensation insurance doesn’t have to report it.
Read below for more information.
Musculoskeletal Symptoms, Disorders, & Injuries (MSDIs)
One of the issues with the study is that it was exclusively focused on MSDIs as an indicator of better safety practices and lower number workers’ comp claims. What is also important to note is that, as MSDI workers' comp claims were reduced, private health providers saw an increase in treating such work injuries.
To determine the relationship between workers’ compensation based health providers and private insurance based providers, researchers needed to merge their data. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries provided a sample of 24,830 businesses with at least 3 months of union labor between 1989 and 2008. Over that span, workers’ compensation claims declined 300 percent, while private health care utilization increased 340 percent.
Statistics Still Don’t Tell the Whole Story
While private industries might be quick to cite the study to prove the decreasing necessity of workers’ comp insurance, even the researchers admit that the scope of their data is limited. There are social factors involved in workers’ comp claims that the study couldn’t investigate.
While a clear correlation seems evident by these statistics, researchers are quick to mention these factors:
- Workers do not want the stigma of being an injured worker, especially in a highly competitive marketplace during a soft economy
- Employers may offer incentives to individuals or groups for keeping workplace injuries low
- Workers’ compensation claims are complicated and are more difficult to manage than simply using a private insurance based healthcare provider, resulting in the worker simply not filing a compensation claim to avoid paperwork
Newton’s Third Law Applied
It seems that Newton’s third law applies to this situation: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We can’t ignore this troubling fact: as workers’ compensation claim numbers drop, private insurance-based doctors see an increase in treatment for work-related injuries. It would seem that injured workers are simply seeking an easier way to receive the care they need, without the added burden of an overly bureaucratic system.
In other words, this study may not be something to celebrate: it may be an indication that workers’ compensation needs to be more accessible.
Put Our Workers’ Compensation Experience to Work For You
If you have suffered a workplace injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation payments until you are able to return to work. Workers’ compensation claims can be extremely complex, and one false move (like paperwork not being completely filled out) could not only delay your claim, but may end up denying it altogether, forcing you to file an appeal. Entrust your case to your local Pennsylvania workers’ compensation team to fight for your rights to workers’ compensation benefits.
In the event that your injury is so severe that you cannot return to work, you may want to consider filing a disability claim. Handler Henning & Rosenberg has been helping people in Pennsylvania since 1922, and we can help you with a Social Security Disability (SSD) appeal if your claim has been denied. Every SSD Attorney at our law firm knows how to avoid the pitfalls that could get your disability claim denied. Contact an experienced Social Security Disability attorney at our law firm today.
Call Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Whether you need to hire an attorney to protect your rights to workers’ compensation benefits, or you need assistance with a Social Security Disability appeal, we have a law office near you anywhere in Pennsylvania. If you are injured and cannot come to our office, we will visit you at your home or in the hospital to offer you a free case evaluation to get started right away.
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