With the last minute workers’ compensation reform bill for California racing to the end of legislative session then passing resoundingly, I felt it would be interesting to look back at what some people had to say in a poll on InsuranceJournal.com asking people their opinions on reform as efforts to push through the bill were ongoing.
Several who took the poll — it ran from Aug. 21 to Aug. 29 — expressed increasing pessimism about the government’s ability to pass reform. They also had some interesting ideas on how to fix the system, a few of which I’ve edited for grammar, clarity and brevity and reprinted here.
“We have to keep premiums down in this economy,” stated one polltaker. “If we don’t, it will drive more underground companies. We have to find a way to cut fraud. The cost of fraudulent claims could go to increase benefits to those actually injured.”
Said another: “We need to get rid of medical provider networks, raise permanent disability, regulate insurance companies who are sucking employers dry for greedy profit and then blaming injured workers for higher rates.”
Some were in favor of getting rid of the system entirely.
“Dismantle the state workers’ comp system … allow employers the option of risk evaluation … to seek insurance coverage protections or not … allow injured parties full access to the civil courts in seeking fair resolutions,” read one comment.
Some commenters listed their solutions:
“Control medical cost, eliminate doctors referring patients to their own physical therapy clinics, diagnostic clinics, etc.; 2) eliminate professional employer organizations, unfair competition, reduces premium for carriers; 3) stronger legislation to limit psych claims; 4) employers need stronger defense for post termination claims, remove the liberal construction language on labor code for post termination claims. Require employees to prove injury notice was provided to employer via medical records or establish a system that informs employees of reporting claims, to prevent disputes for post termination claims.”
Another suggested incentivizing better medical treatment:
“Provisions that would compensate physicians based on outcomes, ie. higher payments for faster return to full duty, lower litigation and less unnecessary treatment.”
There were some who suggested certain parts of the system should be changed.
“Remove attorneys and the inclusion of ‘multiple body part’ litigated claims used as a method of increasing the claim pay out and increasing legal fee payout,” wrote one.
One commenter wrote a 450-word treatise that included suggestions on changing how applicant attorneys are compensated, and policing physicians “who have a history of keeping workers out of the work force,” as well as changing the way injured workers are tracked, along with suggestions for giving instructions to judges.
“These are amongst the major changes I would make as a former professional from the industry,” the polltaker wrote. “I’ve since left that madness, much to my own peace of mind.”