The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) conducted interviews with injured workers over the past four years to help understand how they navigate workers’ compensation systems. This session at WCI’s 2019 Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference highlighted the results and provided insights into areas of opportunity as a result.
- Michele Adams, Vice President of Risk Management, Walt Disney World Resorts
- Laure Lamy, Regional Director, Workers’ Compensation Research Institute
WCRI felt it was important to study injured worker outcomes because information about how workers fare in the system is lacking. They conducted telephonic interviews, focusing on claims where the individual had seven days or more of lost time.
They focused on five areas:
- Recovery of health and function.
- Whether they received earnings.
- Speed to return to work.
- Access to care.
- Satisfaction of care.
Snapshot of Results:
- At least 80% of workers reported that they navigated the system successfully, which is positive.
- There was up to a 10% variation, though, related to satisfaction on return to work, access to care and satisfaction of care across states.
- Timeliness of medical care received lower ratings. Employees believed that the employer or insurer discouraged them from using the desired medical provider and/or that they were getting their appointments quickly.
- Education is a factor related to return to work. Workers with less than high school education had a poorer return-to-work rate.
- Age is also a factor. 28% of those age 55 and over reported that there were factors unrelated to the injury preventing them from returning to work.
- Trust issues in the workplace has a tremendous impact. Those who were strongly concerned about being fired had worse workers’ compensation outcomes. 22% of those individuals also hired an attorney, so there is a direct correlation to litigation rates.
- Hypertension, diabetes and heart problems led the reported comorbidities impacting injury duration.
- English language proficiency impacted satisfaction of obtaining desired care. 21% of those who took the survey in Spanish reported that they were very dissatisfied with care.
- Workers with lower job tenure have worse return-to-work rates. 17% with those with less than one year on the job were still not working.
- Education – Determine how you help people with lower education levels navigate a highly-complicated system and help demystify the process. Lack of doing so creates fear, which leads to a multitude of poor outcomes.
- Fear of being fired – Trust in the workplace is tremendously important and employers have the ability to remove fear factors. How does corporate behavior match what we are saying? Scared employees are going to see counsel and that drives claims costs.
- Comorbidities – Wellness programs in the workplace can help impact baseline health before employees become injured. Employers can limit access to junk food and smoking areas in addition to hosting health fairs and providing exercise programs.
- English language proficiency – Being able to communicate is critically important. Workers’ compensation is already confusing, so imagine how hard it is for those who are not proficient in the English language. In additional to providing bilingual contacts and translated forms, also think about other methods like communicating information through infographics.