November 19, 2013 — 1282 views
Myths About Obamacare and Workers’ Comp
Many people are losing healthcare coverage or will see it reduced, meaning that there will be a greater likelihood of workers’ compensation claims.
The Obama administration has said that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, enacted into law in 2010 and scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, will reduce workers’ comp claims because so many additional people will be covered under personal insurance policies. But there is reason to think otherwise.
The first issue is that so many companies are reducing the insurance they offer employees or are cutting employees’ hours so much that they fall below the law’s threshold, so employees don’t have to be covered at all. Employees who aren’t covered under corporate policies or who are underinsured are more likely to make workers’ comp claims.
Here are just a few examples from National Review Online:
SeaWorld used to let part-time employees work as many as 32 hours per week, but the company is dropping the limit to 28 hours to keep them under the 30-hour threshold at which it would be required to provide health insurance under Obamacare. More than 80 percent of the company’s thousands of employees are part-time or seasonal.
Carnegie Museum in Pennsylvania scaled back the hours of 48 of its 600 part-time employees to less than 30 hours a week to sidestep the mandate to provide health-care coverage
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell decided to limit the state’s part-time employees to 29 hours per week.
Brevard County, Florida told a local television station that the county’s 300-plus part-time employees will be “capped at something less than 30” hours to save the county about $10,000 per employee in health insurance.
Fatburger announced that franchises had begun making efforts to keep employees under the 30-hour threshold, including some franchises’ engaging in “job sharing.”
As more companies shift to shorter work weeks, you can expect claims under workers’ comp to keep climbing.
Proponents of Obamare still say it will decrease workers’ compensation costs in several ways, including through the elimination of lifetime caps on medical insurance coverage. The argument is that these caps on employees’ private policies pushed them to file workers’ compensation claims. Really? Many of the leading cost drivers for work-related injuries are Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD), better known as soft tissue injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), soft tissue injuries (sprains and strains) accounted for 40% of all work-related injuries that resulted in lost days of work. I do not believe that these types of injuries would affect the lifetime maximum for health insurance, which is typically $1 million.
Proponents also note that a healthcare insurer can no longer refuse to provide coverage because of preexisting conditions, conditions they claim were often not covered by private healthcare and thus encouraged employees to seek coverage under workers’ compensation. While this is a good point, the National Review’s examples show that many people are losing healthcare coverage or will see it reduced, meaning that there will be a greater likelihood of workers’ compensation claims. Yes, there are penalties for not securing healthcare coverage, but they are modest, especially in the early years of Obamacare, and there is no real mechanism for enforcement. The IRS has the responsibility for collecting penalties but has no true powers to do so.
How are people supposed to afford care if their hours have been cut? You guessed it: workers’ compensation.
About the Author
MaryRose Reaston is the founder of Emerge Diagnostics, an Oklahoma-based company created to commercialize the Electrodiagnostic Functional Assessment (EFA). Emerge Diagnostics focuses on reducing clients’ claims costs via early resolution and enhanced treatment options for soft-tissue injuries. Emerge Diagnostics is expert in the field of electrodiagnostic medicine as it applies to injuries in the workplace and is a leader in the continuing development of innovative technology.
More articles by MaryRose Reaston:
- Better Management of Soft-Tissue Injuries: A Case Study
- Workers' Compensation No Longer the Exclusive Remedy: RICO on the Radar, Part 2
- Workers' Compensation No Longer The Exclusive Remedy: RICO On The Radar
- New AMA Classification Of Obesity: How It Affects Workers' Compensation And Mandatory Reporting
- What Do New Workers' Compensation Reforms Sweeping the Country Have in Common?
- Baseline Testing: Book End Solution - Does It Qualify as Business Necessity?
- The Healthcare Industry Is Ripe For Baseline Testing
- What An Employer Can Do To Reduce Soft Tissue Injuries In The Transportation Industry
- Workers' Compensation In California: No Longer Just Permanent And Stationary
- Don't Get Washed Away By The Medicare Set-Aside
- Repetitive Stress Injury Has Become Cumulative Trauma for Employers
- Is Your OSHA Program Discriminatory?
+ READ MORE about this author ...
- Share it with your social contacts (use the social sharing buttons at the top)
- Email it to your direct reports and colleagues (use the Email button at the top)
- Follow MaryRose Reaston and/or the Workers Compensation topic to be notified when new articles are added
- Read related articles
- Add a comment or ask a question
Was This Article Helpful?
If so, you can follow MaryRose Reaston and receive a notification (either in your feed reader or via email) whenever a new article by MaryRose Reaston is published on InsuranceThoughtLeadership.com.
You can also follow the Workers Compensation Topic, either in your feed reader or via email notifications: