Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water
Regarding the article on the workers’ compensation system (Melinda Monaghan column, Feb. 2):
As a person in this field I have a few issues with this article. First, if you are injured on the job you receive benefits at two-thirds your wages, non-taxed, up to $490 per week. Current legislation is looking to increase that amount as of Jan 1. Second, the system is designed to pay all medical costs to bring an injured worker back to pre-injury condition. If an employer provides medical benefits for an employee, instead of workers’ compensation insurance, equality would suggest the employer provide 100 percent of all medical costs (no employee contribution or deductibles). I would question if that would be a less costly alternative.
The Division of Workers’ Compensation reviews all settlement claims to ensure fair treatment for the injured worker. There are laws designed with the protection and treatment of the employee in mind, including vocational rehabilitation if the injured worker can’t go back to the job. What would be provided through a medical benefits system to handle all these protections? And finally how much of a burden can we put on the state and federal disability and/or Social Security if an injured worker can’t come back to work within “six months to a year during rehabilitation”?
I am all for a health-care plan for all working families. But cutting out the benefits afforded an injured worker through the workers’ compensation system is not the answer.
There are alternatives to the increases in workers’ compensation insurance costs. Examples are for an employer to become self-insured, or shop around for the best rate. Don’t pay for services offered in your policy that you don’t need. Become more involved in claims management and fraud prevention. Lobby government to increase fines for acts of fraud. Fraudulent claims increase workers’ compensation insurance costs, and ultimately affect the bottom line of every industry. Most importantly, train employees in safe work practices and counsel an employee who may not be working safely. By decreasing the amount of injuries that occur “on the job,” you can reduce your rates for workers’ compensation insurance.
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