Cambridge, MA (WorkersCompensation.com) - Today, the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) released a new study ? Health Insurance and Outcomes of Injured Workers ? that examines the association between health insurance for non-work-related conditions and outcomes that workers experience after a work-related injury.
“While workers are covered by workers' compensation when they sustain a work-related injury, whether they have health insurance as well as the source of that insurance can predict how quickly they see a doctor and return to work, among other postinjury outcomes,” said John Ruser, president and CEO of WCRI.
The study shows that workers with employer-sponsored health insurance who experienced workplace injuries (compared to injured workers without health insurance) reported
faster time to their first non-emergency office visit for evaluation and management services;
somewhat higher recovery of physical health and functioning (although the difference is quite small from a clinical perspective);
higher rates of return to work;
shorter duration of time before substantial return to work;
higher rates of satisfaction with the primary provider; and
lower rates of hiring an attorney to help them navigate their workers' compensation claim.
Since the above outcomes were associated primarily with employer-sponsored health insurance, the study surmises that an increase in government provided health insurance may not substantially alter the distribution of those outcomes that workers experience after their injuries. However, a shift away from employer-sponsored health insurance coverage may lead to changes in outcomes.
The study found little difference by health insurance status (those who have health insurance and those who do not) when it came to other outcomes, such as the likelihood of workers reporting either “big problems” getting their desired primary provider or “big problems” getting desired medical services. There was also little difference by health insurance status in the nature of medical care that workers received and small differences in the percentage of workers who were “very dissatisfied” with overall care.