DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk & InsuranceŽ
When Integro's Mark Noonan queried a morning panel at the Annual National Workers' Compensation and Disability ConferenceŽ & Expo in Las Vegas on Nov. 10 on the impact of federal
health reform on workers' compensation, he got a tepid answer.
Speakers such as Rod Bordelon, the workers' compensation commissioner for the Texas Department of Insurance, indicated that it was too soon too tell.
But had Noonan showed up at Joe Paduda's 11 a.m. session later that day, he would have gotten an earful.
Paduda, principal of Madison, Conn.-based Health Strategy Associates LLC, comes off like a cynic when he talks about the government, but if you looked between the lines of his midmorning presentation, titled "External Medical Issues, What You Don't Know Will Cost You," there are reasons for optimism.
One of the goals of federal healthcare reform is that 30 million more people will be covered. There is a substantial chance that the reform's focus on better primary care could mean the chronically ill will get more comprehensive treatment at the primary-care level.
A healthier population will translate to less cost-shifting from the larger $2.4 trillion healthcare universe to the much smaller $30 billion workers' compensation universe, Paduda said. With more than 60 percent of workers' compensation costs being generated by the chronically ill, Paduda sees some glimmers of hope.
Add to that the fact that, statistically speaking, people with health insurance tend to be healthier than people without health insurance and you have even more reason to be optimistic.
But there is plenty still to worry about. Those specialists that feel slighted by health reform's focus on primary care will have to make their money somewhere and will start shifting costs into workers' comp, Paduda said.
November 10, 2010
Copyright 2010© LRP Publications