Hundreds of thousands of injured workers across the U.S. are facing poverty after suffering serious work injuries. We’re seeing worker’s compensation benefits falling apart—helping insurance companies and employers save money while taxpayers foot the bill.
This morning’s NPR segment regarding Dennis Whedbee’s on-the-job accident that left him unable to work, and unable to support a family has gotten the attention of many North Dakota residents and citizens across the U.S. After the incident, Whedbee was forced to apply for food stamps just to put dinner on the table. Just 30 years ago, his work comp benefits would have covered the expenses.
A History of Worker’s Comp
To understand the controversial reforms of Worker’s Compensation, it’s important to look at what work comp is, and where the need for it began.
The NPR article explains the origins of Worker’s Compensation; at the dawn of the Industrial Age, workers gave up their right to sue, in exchange for the guarantee that medical bills and enough of their wages would be covered to get them through the recovery process.
According to the Ultimate Missouri Work Comp book, sweeping reforms in 2005 meant more abuse of injured workers. Who benefits? THE INSURANCE COMPANIES of course! It would be bad enough if Missouri was the only state putting serious limits on disability benefits for injured workers, saving the insurance companies money, and allowing taxpayers to pay the difference.
Recent Work Comp “Reforms” Cost American Taxpayers
North Dakota and Missouri aren’t the only states in the U.S. in which workers compensation faces cutbacks. Many states launch ‘reform’ campaigns that are funded primarily by big businesses and insurance companies. Reform backers claim that costs of medical expenses and insurance are spiraling out of control, when in fact, employers are paying the lowest they’ve paid for worker’s comp insurance since the 1970’s. Meanwhile, insurance companies are turning a hefty profit.
In some states, reforms have been so drastic that injured workers are virtually guaranteed into poverty. And who foots the bill? American Taxpayers, who fill in the gap for Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid that are no longer covered by these work comp insurance companies.
Injured Workers Not Getting the Right Treatment
We are truly relieved that, even this late in the game, the unwinding of workers compensation laws throughout the country are finally getting the news coverage it deserves. A study published by ProPublica has been making its way around social media. Its findings leave some to draw the conclusion that cuts to modern workers’ compensation laws are inhumane. Here are the study’s harrowing findings:
- Work comp coverage has always assigned a set price tag for what it will award an injured worker depending on the type of injury. This has always been true. Reforms are causing huge discrepancies between states, which leave some believing some states are lacking. The maximum compensation for the loss of an eye in Alabama is $27,280, but $261,525 in Pennsylvania.
- Increasingly, Employers’ insurance companies control medical decisions: sometimes this includes deciding whether an injured worker needs surgery. In 37 states, workers are not allowed to choose their own doctor, or are given a list of potential doctors by their employer.
- In California, insurers are able to reopen old cases, get the opinions of doctors who’ve never even seen the patient, and retroactively deny medical care. In one such case insurance companies took away the in-home health aide of Joel Ramirez, who was paralyzed in a warehouse accident. Without his health aide, Ramirez was left to sit in his own feces for up to eight hours.
Ramirez said the decision to leave him without home care made him “feel like less than nothing.” Read Joel Ramirez’s story here.
Workers’ Compensation in Missouri
If you think the insurance company will treat you fairly, you are sadly mistaken. They will try to keep you in the dark about your rights. While Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers may not be able to represent every injured worker in Missouri, Josh Myers is now offering his Ultimate Missouri Work Comp Book guide completely free of charge to anyone who requests it. We don’t want to let the insurance companies win. Reforms are already halping them take advantage of injured workers. If you’re injured, make sure you’re equipped with the right resources to get the compensation you deserve.
The Ultimate Missouri Work Comp Book is yours completely free. We even pay shipping. Order one at http://bit.ly/WorkCompBook, or by calling us at 314-444-4444
NPR Article: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/04/390441655/injured-workers-suffer-as-reforms-limit-workers-compensation-benefits
Missouri Work Comp Book: bit.ly/WorkCompBook