Sunday, August 24, 2008

Texas No Longer Requires Approved Doctors

Used to be that injured workers who were collecting workers’ compensation benefits in Texas had to be treated by doctors on a state-approved list or that had received training through the state. But that list is history and other states that have approved doctors lists ought to consider getting rid of theirs, too, to allow injured workers more control over their own healthcare.

The Texas Department of Insurance however still requires doctors to “disclose financial interest in other providers, practitioners, and facilities,” according to Albert Betts,

Commissioner of Workers' Compensation, a division of the Texas Department of Insurance.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Workers’ compensation denials in North Dakota Point To Systemic Problem

A consultant has recommended that the people who handle workers’ compensation claims in North Dakota should be allowed more discretion in deciding whether injured workers qualify for benefits. After reviewing workers’ compensation case files, Marsh USA determined that 14 percent of people who were denied workers’ comp benefits in North Dakota should have received them. A majority of those denied claims involved pre-existing conditions that became worse as a result of the employee’s job.

    “We felt those claims could have been accepted based on our opinion,” [consultant Anthony] Walker said.

    Several states have laws that give claims handlers more discretion in deciding claims involving pre-existing conditions, within certain parameters, he added…

    The discussion about how much discretion claims handlers should have came as injured workers testified about their experiences with what they portrayed as a bureaucracy that could be indifferent or even adversarial when dealing with their disability benefits. A common theme involved workers’ criticism of the agency’s reliance on so-called independent medical examiners who recommended denying their benefits based on incomplete medical information and cursory examinations that contradicted the advice of their treating physicians.

The consultant’s report is adding fuel to many workers’ assertion that the workers’ compensation system in North Dakota should be reformed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Insurance Company Reverses Decision About Workers’ Comp Benefits for Sick Meatpacking Employees

A bit of good news from the world of workers’ compensation – an insurance company has switched its position on claims filed by employees of a Minnesota meatpacking plant and will now pay them benefits.

Here’s the story: At least 18 employees of Quality Pork Processors plant in Austin, Minn., came down with a mysterious neurological illness. Several employees who applied for workers’ compensation benefits were denied, and at least 11 employees, filed a lawsuit seeking medical care, lost wages and other workers’ compensation benefits. Now it seems that everyone who got sick, including those who were denied worker’s compensation, will be covered by after all.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Workers’ Comp Rates in Massachusetts Could Drop in September

Employers in Massachusetts, who were facing a 2.3 percent increase in their workers’ compensation insurance premiums, will actually be getting a price break in the fall. As in most states, employers in Massachusetts are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide medical care, coverage for lost wages and other benefits for workers who are injured on the job.

An insurance industry trade group had requested a rate hike, but the state’s attorney general intervened. If the state’s insurance commissioner approves the new rate, Massachusetts businesses will pay 1 percent less for workers’ compensation insurance in September. That’s a $30 million savings across the board.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Workers’ Comp for the Self-Employed?

What protections and insurance coverage are available to self-employed people who are injured on the job?

Karen E. Klein, who writes for Business Week, tackles that complicated subject in her Smart Answers column. The short answer is that workers’ compensation insurance is typically not available to sole proprietors and even if it were, most would find it too costly. A health or disability insurance policy, when written the right way, can provide protection for self-employed people who are injured at work.

    A self-employed person is more likely to find coverage for serious injuries by purchasing an individual insurance plan (, 5/16/07) that includes both medical and disability insurance. However, there are a couple of wrinkles your members could face trying to get disability insurance.

    One is that both disability insurance and health insurance normally exclude work-related injuries and illnesses under the assumption those problems will be covered by workers' comp. "If a self-employed person was using this coverage for work injuries and illnesses, that exclusion would need to be removed, which will increase their cost," Klein says.