Lawmakers should make 2014 the last year that doctors and other health care providers are guaranteed payment no matter how much they charge when a worker is injured on the job. The workers’ compensation system is broken.
The state, and the employers who pay into its workers’ compensation fund, have been paying two and three times the going rate for medical services when the patient is a workers’ compensation recipient. On average, surgeons charge 156 percent more, according to a report by the state’s Department of Insurance. Bills for radiology are 107 percent higher, 95 percent higher for occupational therapy and for something as simple as an ice pack, 300 percent more.
The extra paperwork required to document workers’ compensation cases and perhaps the added severity of the average injury, probably explains some of the price difference. But, human nature being what it is, it’s likely that, when the bill has to be paid no matter what the provider charges, the temptation to pad it can be irresistible, especially when providers can rationalize the surcharge by using it to offset underpayments in areas such as Medicare or Medicaid.
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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.