Reducing workers’ comp claims with voluntary benefits

A simple benefits strategy 

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Businesses with above average on-the-job injuries can leverage voluntary benefits to reduce their risks of workers’ compensation claims.

Companies with large portion of its workforce in jobs that require physical activity, such as construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, trucking and restaurants, often have a strong workplace safety program in place to manage employee and business risks. But the right voluntary benefits strategy can also help manage risks of workers’ compensation claims, decreasing workers’ comp claim occurrences sometimes up to 20%, according to the Colonial Life’s director of market development.

High deductible plans leads to higher workers' comp risks

With the growing trend of high deductible health plans, there’s been a corresponding rise of out-of-pocket expenses and reported workplace injuries. Research shows many workers with high deductible plans have delayed medical care for off-the-job injuries or medical conditions, because they can’t afford the out-of-pocket expenses like the $2,000 or $3,000 deductibles with the co-insurance portion of the bill.

So, many workers are doing what they can to get by, whether it’s treating themselves with home remedies or “grinning and bearing it” so they can earn their paycheck. Either way, many of these workers are going to work with untreated injuries or with an underlying medical condition. By avoiding high out-of-pocket costs of medical care, employees increase safety risks for themselves, other workers and their employers.

“In physically demanding jobs, like those found in construction, manufacturing or oil and gas, an injury suffered off-the-job and left untreated can unfortunately sometimes lead to an injury at work,” said Patrick McCullough, Director of Market Development at Colonial Life, who spoke at our recent webinar on benefits strategy.

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62% of HR experts agree that employees who have difficulty affording out-of-pocket health plan costs could be more likely to report an off-the-job injury as a workplace injury.

Source: IMPA–HR, Impact of Employee Out-of-Pocket Health Plan Costs on Report Workplace Accidents, 2019.

Simple strategy to reduce the risk of workers' comp claims 

Companies may not realize that high deductible plans can lead to unintended consequences of higher workers compensation claims. But voluntary benefits, such as accident, hospital indemnity and short-term disability plans, are designed to help workers cover expenses, significantly reducing the risk of unintended consequences associated with high out-of-pocket medical plans.

High out-of-pocket medical plans accompanied by accident, hospital indemnity or short-term disability plans reduce the employee cost and the likelihood of avoiding treatment — also reducing the risks of a workers’ comp claim for an off-the-job injury or illness.

“When a health plan’s out-of-pocket expenses are offset by an accident plan, workers who experience an off-job injury are more likely to seek the medical care they need instead of skipping treatment and going to work with an untreated injury,” said McCullough. “And short-term disability will give workers peace of mind they need, so they can take the time they need to recover. That means they’ll be healthier productive employees when they return to work.“

For more about leveraging voluntary benefits to reduce business risks, watch this SHRM webinar recording, The Hidden Value of Voluntary Benefits.