The next costly HR headache: Workers' comp to double


It never ends. You’re already trying to comply with Obamacare. Then, you’ll have to deal with the DOL’s new overtime exemption rule changes. What’s next? 
A wave of workers’ compensation claims, according to one insider.
Our good friends over at recently attended the annual conference for the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare and came back with some concerning info for HR pros.

‘It’ll double’

While presenting at the conference, Phil Walker, the founder of the Phil Walker Work Comp Savings Company and a national trial counsel for employers in California workers’ comp cases, said workers’ compensation claims will double over the next 10 years.
According to Fred Hosier, SafetyNewsAlert’s editor-in-chief, Walker said there are three reasons for this:

  1. Technology will eliminate low-paying jobs. We’re already seeing this at places like Amazon, which is using robots to eliminate warehouse jobs, and Wendy’s, which is starting to use order kiosks in place of warm-blooded order-takers, Walker said. And what happens when low-paying jobs are eliminated? People who occupied those positions file workers’ comp claims.
  2. Municipal bankruptcies. It’s no secret cities are having financial problems. As a result, retiree benefits are getting cut, which is already leading to a spike in workers’ comp claims. Walker said when United Airlines filed for bankruptcy, 100% of the people who “retired” filed a workers’ comp claim. And when United tried to enter negotiations to settle these claims, not one person did.
  3. Doctors are money-hungry. As a result, Walker said doctors are looking for excuses to perform surgery, are referring more patients to specialists and pain management providers, and billing above cost knowing they’ll settle with insurance companies for far less. Walker said docs are doing this because they’re finding it hard to survive on what Obamacare and Medicare plans are paying them.

What can employers do?

Is there a way to avoid the coming workers’ comp avalanche? Walker says there may be.
He said companies will start requiring their retiring or terminated employees to submit to pre-termination physicals. This will allow employers to screen for any employment-related health problems and, if none are found, provide employers with the ammo needed to refute bogus workers’ comp claims.
This may be an avenue worth exploring if you start to notice a spike in fishy workers’ comp claims.