How Did The Affordable Care Act Affect The Workers Comp Industry?

In most states, employers are required to carry workers compensation coverage on all employees. This insurance helps financially protect employees by providing compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs resulting from an on-the-job injury or chronic ailment caused by years of repetitive work. However, recent changes to health insurance laws under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may be affecting how workers compensation claims are handled across the country. Read on to learn more about the direct and indirect impact of the ACA on workers comp, as well as how you can preserve your rights after being injured at work.

How did the ACA affect workers compensation coverage?

On its surface, the ACA has little to do with workers compensation, as workers comp insurers often offer a very different array of insurance services than health insurers. However, when an employee is injured on the job and immediately seeks medical treatment under his or her primary health insurance plan, this plan will need to coordinate with the workers compensation plan to ensure all claims are satisfied without requiring the employee to pay out of pocket. Among the other sweeping changes it made to health insurance, the ACA also placed some strict limits on the types of costs that can be reimbursed by health insurance providers -- but it did not enact these changes for workers comp insurers.

As a result, claims that do (or could) have amounts exceeding these costs may be punted to the workers comp insurer to be fully covered. While this benefits the employee by ensuring that all costs are paid, it can come at a cost to the workers comp insurer. Insurers faced with an unexpected influx of claims may eventually be forced to hike rates to help cover the increased number and amount of payouts, passing these costs on to employers.

Is there anything you can do to preserve your rights if injured at work?

Fortunately, these changes are on a fairly macro level and shouldn't have much of an effect on your individual claim. However, there are some things you can do to help protect yourself and ensure that you're able to receive all the compensation to which you're entitled.

First, you should immediately report any work-related injuries to your immediate supervisor or human resources department. Each state sets its own statute of limitations for workers comp claims, and waiting too long to report an injury could prevent you from seeking repayment. Also keep in mind that this can include overuse injuries (like carpal tunnel) or chronic pain, so if you've recently visited a physician for these symptoms and have gotten a firm diagnosis, you'll want to inform your employer of this as well.

You'll also want to keep careful documentation of your symptoms and of any costs you've paid in relation to your injury. By providing an accurate accounting of costs and detailing your injuries, you'll be able to clearly establish the amount of your claim and see that you're fully compensated. For more information, you may want to contact an experienced workers comp attorney from a firm like Ransom, Gilbertson, Martin & Ratliff, L.L.P