Barack Obama ran his presidential election on the promise of healthcare reform. It is estimated that upwards of 50 millions Americans are uninsured in the United States. That is a staggering number when you think of the population of the United States, which currently sits just above 300 million people. Add that figure to the number of jobs that have been lost (and the insurance that comes with a job) then the amount of Americans uninsured is frightening.
People from both sides of legislation fought and are still fighting to amend Obama’s recent healthcare plan, but that is not the only healthcare issue that has been circulating on Capitol Hill. People might remember that Hilary Clinton promised, if elected, that she would set up a universal healthcare system for all Americans. Just because she didn’t get elected doesn’t mean that the issue was dropped.
Even though a universal healthcare plan is not in the very near future, it’s still not too early to talk about the effects that a universal healthcare plan could have on workers’ compensation. Most people are insured through their employer and are covered under workers’ compensation should they get injured at their place of work. The employer, through the insurance carrier, should provide benefits that include, but are not limited to, hospitalization, physical therapy, medical tests, doctor’s visits, and medication. If a universal healthcare plan were implemented then how would the new system go about figuring out what coverages are provided?
Currently, workers compensation is a state run program. Considering that workers’ compensation only accounts for about 2-3% of the health care system makes overhauling it on a national level a daunting task. Adopting national laws for workers’ compensation could also interfere with state laws that are already in place. If not kept at a state level then workers compensation benefits could decrease. At worst, we could see the end of workers’ compensation as it would seem redundant to offer workers’ compensation if all Americans are provided insurance regardless if they have a job or not.
Employees are also offered indemnity benefits under workers’ compensation, which helps provide an income for injured employees while they are recovering and unable to work. Under a universal healthcare plan, an employee’s medical costs would be covered, but an employee might not be able to collect indemnity payments to support him or herself.
The bottom line is that workers compensation is too fragile and small of an area of the healthcare system to be amended and overhauled by a universal healthcare plan.