One of the trends CompAlliance continues to watch is the impact of the ACA on workers’ compensation. Over the years I try to make sure I attend at least one session on this topic hosted by experts in the field at each national conference. There have been interesting suppositions posed at these sessions throughout the years.
One of the concerns voiced had been that with more people insured there would be increased wait times for treatment of work related injuries. Based on my experience regarding access to healthcare in the Midwest, I did not really see that as a concern.
NCCI published a document addressing this specific issue. Time From Injury to Treatment in Workers Compensation: Setting a Baseline to Monitor the Affordable Care Act.
KEY FINDINGS in this NCCI report:
- There are significant differences by state in the time to receive initial treatment
- A high share of WC cases receive treatment on the date of injury
- Claimant demographics impact how medical care is accessed
- Time to treatment patterns differ by the type of service, type of provider, and the nature of the injury
- For the three states reviewed in this study (Alabama, Illinois, and Oklahoma), there is little evidence of a difference between urban versus rural providers
- In summary, NCCI reports the healthcare system currently has sufficient capacity reserve so that provider availability plays a secondary role to claimant behavior in driving the time to treatment. One takeaway from this is how, in a changing healthcare environment, educating workers about accessing the WC system becomes increasingly important.
CompAlliance echoes this belief. Our 24/7 Triage on-call nurses provide medical advice over the telephone to employees at all hours of the day. They assist with symptom assessment, urgent and non-urgent health advice, medical explanations, recommendations and information. When it is determined in-person medical assessment and treatment may be needed, the injured worker is referred to the appropriate facility within the employer’s network.