At a recent Disability Management Employer Coalition conference in Las Vegas, doctors gathered to discuss health care issues. On the agenda were workers’ compensation and the new health insurance reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The ACA has little direct influence on state-run workers’ compensation systems. However, the law will have an impact on systems put in place to protect injured workers on a national level.
Dr. David Dietz, the national medical director of commercial insurance strategic practices at Liberty Mutual Insurance, spoke about the changes. Although regulations are different from state to state, Dr. Dietz was still able to draw one overarching conclusion during his keynote speech. That was that with more people insured, there should be fewer claims made by uninsured workers for workers’ compensation benefits.
On the flip side, Dr. Dietz also stressed that the ACA could have an adverse impact on employers trying to avoid economic implications by hiring fewer full-time workers. Part-time employees are reportedly more likely to file a claim because they have higher rates of injuries, according to Dr. Dietz’s data.
Access to and reimbursement for care is another concern many people have had with workers’ compensation claims. Factors dealing with care are available on a state-by-state basis.
Georgia workers’ compensation claims might not see an impact from the new law. Fee schedules in Georgia tend to be favorable for doctors, and there are few barriers to access, so many physicians welcome the influx of patients in need of workers’ compensation care. In other states, such as Florida, there are more access issues and discounted fee schedules, so the influx is not as welcome.
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