Report: Workers’ Comp Reform Could Boost Primary Care Costs
An overhaul of California's workers' compensation system could lead to higher costs for primary care services and lower costs for specialty health care services, according to a report from the Workers Compensation Research Institute, the Sacramento Business Journal reports (Johnson, Sacramento Business Journal, 4/8).
In September 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law a bill (SB 863) that overhauls the state's workers' compensation system.
The law -- by Sens. Kevin de LeÃ³n (D-Los Angeles) and Jose Solorio (D-Anaheim) -- changed the formula used to calculate benefits for injured workers, increasing their compensation by an average of 29%.
It also eliminated benefits for certain health conditions that often are subject to lawsuits, such as psychiatric problems, sexual dysfunction and sleep loss.
The State Compensation Insurance Fund said employers likely will pay less for workers' compensation insurance under the law.
Findings of New Report
The WCRI report found that medical payments per claim in California were on par with other states before passage of SB 863, while utilization of nonhospital health care services was higher than in other states (WCRI release, 4/3).
The report found that under SB 863:
- Medical legal expenses could decrease;
- Medical treatment could be provided to injured workers more quickly;
- Disputes over treatment could be resolved faster; and
- Payments for ambulatory surgical care services could decrease (Sacramento Business Journal, 4/8).