WHO PAYS WHEN WORKERS ARE HURT ON THE JOB?
Workers’ compensation insurance is meant to provide wage loss and medical benefits to workers who are injured in the course and scope of their employment. Who really pays? A recent study reveals that seventy-nine percent (79%) of the billions of dollars spent on work place injuries and illnesses are actually paid by employer-provided health insurance, Medicare, Social Security, and even the injured employees. The study compiled data from 2007 from several governmental and nonprofit organizations. The data demonstrates that the total costs of occupational injuries and illnesses was nearly $250 billion dollars. Of that amount only twenty-one percent (21%) or $51.7 billion was covered by workers’ compensation. Shockingly, the study found that injured workers and their families contributed $10.38 billion of the total costs. The remaining $150.38 billion dollars was paid for from other sources including Medicare and Social Security. The end result therefore is that we, and NOT the insurance companies, are paying higher Medicare and income taxes to help ensure workplace safety.
The study suggests that one solution for helping with this problem is to:
“eliminate the stigma often associated with filing workers’ compensation claims by openly acknowledging the legitimacy of using workers’ compensation insurance for occupational injuries.”
In order to combat these cost shifting measures taken by insurance companies, it is essential that injured workers file for workers’ compensation benefits.