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Moore: What Happened to Positivity?

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Measuring workers' comp negativity remains one of the easiest tasks for bloggers and authors inside and outside of the industry. 

James Moore

James Moore

One has to ask how many times has a reader read an article extolling the virtues of a system that has been in existence since ancient Sumeria. Yes, the original workers’ comp coverage was not invented by Wausau or mariners in the 1800s.

What caused me to write this article began when I came across an article where a well-known blogger posted four negative articles in one post. I found that amazing. 

One has to wonder what subject the blogger would cover if not finding the workers' compensation negativity in the nooks and crannies of what is an admittedly imperfect system. 

Mark Walls of Safety National wrote a very poignant response to ProPublica’s slamming of the workers’ compensation system a few years ago. As published in Insurance Thought Leadership, some of the positive developments he was working on included:

  • A paraplegic worker lived with his family in a dilapidated mobile home that was insufficient for his wheelchair. We were obligated to provide him with comparable housing, which would have been a new mobile home. Instead, we purchased a house that was large enough for him and his family, complete with all the necessary modifications needed to make the home handicap-accessible.
  • A paraplegic worker used to enjoy hunting with his family. We purchased an all-terrain wheelchair in addition to his regular wheelchair so he could continue to enjoy this activity with his family.
  • We recently purchased experimental motorized leg braces for a paraplegic worker. Because of these braces, he is able to walk again.
  • I have seen numerous injured workers we have assisted in recovering from an addiction to opioid pain medications. When these injured workers are free of this addiction, their quality of life and their relationship with their families is significantly improved. We have had both injured workers and their family members thank us for helping them overcome this addiction.

In 2015, I wrote an article titled “In Defense of Workers’ Compensation” to the same type of vitriolic reporting covering workers’ compensation negativity.  

Even the bloggers and authors who deride the workers’ compensation system live off the same tree as the vendors and other service suppliers. Without negativity, what would they cover in their articles? One has to wonder.

If a company or governmental entity invented a better system, where are they now?  Why has workers’ compensation not been replaced and in the rearview mirror for providing benefits to injured workers?

Even in other countries, such as China or the Philippines, the workers’ comp structure stays in place when paying benefits. These two countries are monopolistic and pay the benefits as more of a governmental program.

The only benefit that I have seen that competes with work comp is the AFLAC wage benefit replacement. I mentioned the AFLAC model when I analyzed the Affordable Care Act and its possible move into a 24-hour coverage benefit. No such coverage was ever expanded for injured workers. Why? Because the structure in place still works today. 

The system does have its downfalls. Mistakes were made along the way. Many vendor companies such as Corvel, OneCall and others have been chided for their earnings, conduct of business and in other areas, including forecasted earnings.   

OneCall struggled recently. I have talked to some of the capital providers in the industry.  Most analyzed the short-term struggles as a “bump-in-the-road’ of any rapidly growing company.  

The newest “sky-is-falling” workers' comp negativity buzz may likely come from the recent Sedgwick purchase of York Risk Services. One can see that York provides a few platforms that Sedgwick would require in the future. Overall, one would have to wait and see what happens with York.  

Many of the large moves in the marketplace do not occur without hours and hours of analysis by very competent investment experts. 

OK, so back to the workers’ compensation negativity after a little positivity.

This blog post is provided by James Moore, AIC, MBA, ChFC, ARM, and is republished with permission from J&L Risk Management Consultants. Visit the full website at www.cutcompcosts.com.

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