How will new health reform laws affect workers comp sector

Workers-Comp InsuranceMembers of the Casualty Actuarial Society recently attended a conference concerning the effect the new health reform bill could have on the casualty and property industry.  Several concerns over possible effects on the worker compensation system were put to rest, and possible results on lowering medical malpractice suits were discussed.

Because worker compensation medical claims are a part of the overall rise in healthcare, many have been concerned about possible changes under the new reform bill. After the statistics were broken down though, there didn’t seem to be much to worry about.

Over an average of almost twenty years (1987-2005), worker comp claims rose by about 16 billion dollars. Over the same period spending for private medical care rose 563 billion dollars. In comparison, it turns out, that worker compensation only accounts for around 3 percent of U.S. spending on healthcare.

The insurance industry’s National Council on Compensation Insurance had their chief economist there as a guest speaker. He believes the reform bill may bring good things for the property and casualty sector. Simpler and more standard forms across the board are one outcome they’re hoping to see.

Other things that might be seen are changes in reimbursement schedules, a pay for outcome or pay-per-episode system and an “accountable for care” type of organization. Medicare fees should also stabilize, with less frequent adjustments being made to them.

A consulting actuary with a global risk management firm spoke about medical malpractice and the changes the new health reform bill could bring. Because more people will be insured, and are able to seek preventative care, early diagnosis and treatments should improve patient outcomes. Hopefully, this will lead to a decrease in malpractice lawsuits.

Others feel that lawsuits will increase because of the increase in patients treated. Included in the new healthcare reform is money for states to improve healthcare information technology, start pilot programs for malpractice reform and increase reporting on malpractice lawsuits and payments.

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