Study Examines How Health Insurance May Affect Outcomes Of Injured Workers

Many studies have examined whether access to health insurance impacts workers’ incentives to file a claim for work comp injuries.  However, there have not been extensive studies that examine what happens after a claim has been filed, and the variance in worker outcomes including non-work-related injuries that may occur while the worker is already receiving work comp insurance benefits.

work injury outcomes

Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) recently released a study authored by Dr. Bogden Savych examining this relationship – comparing how recent changes in the health insurance industry may affect the post-injury outcomes for injured workers. The study looked at many factors including, but not limited to: how quickly they see a doctor to how soon after the injury they return to work.

It documented changes in health insurance coverage rates between 2008 – 2017 as reported by the American Community Survey (ACS). Then it compared characteristics of injured workers with and without health insurance for non-work-related injuries, in order to offer new evidence about the connection between health insurance coverage and outcomes that workers experience after an injury at work occurs.

The results of the study showed a positive correlation between workers with employer-sponsored health insurance compared to those without health insurance.  Those with work comp insurance through their employer reported:

  • faster time to their first non-emergency office visit for evaluation and management services;
  • somewhat higher recovery of physical health and functioning (although the difference is quite small from a clinical perspective);
  • higher rates of return to work;
  • shorter duration of time before substantial return to work;
  • higher rates of satisfaction with the primary provider; and
  • lower rates of hiring an attorney to help them navigate their workers’ compensation claim.

Based on the results above, one could infer that more health insurance would lead to better outcomes for injured workers.  However, the study notes that these outcomes were associated mostly with employer-provided health insurance, not government funded health insurance, and therefore an increase in government-provided health insurance may not create similar results.

To learn more or access the full study, you can find it here: WCRI: Health Insurance and Outcomes of Injured Workers