Guest Blog by Jon Rehm
Vermont's proposed single payer system would seperate medical care from indemnity. Vermont's single proposed single-payer system would likely also provide a primary care doctor to every resident of Vermont. This would benefit injured workers because employees would have more control over their medical care and their employers and the employers workers comp insurance companies would have less control.
In my practice, I often hear my clients who don't have insurance going to doctor's reccomended by their employers or insurance companies. These are occupational doctors. My client's with insurance are often steered away from their family doctor's to occupational medicine doctors. A leading blog written from the perpective of workers comp insurers, Workers Comp Insider states occupational doctors have a "return to work" focus. However in Colorado, Concentra, a nationwide occupational health provider is being sued under the Civil RICO statute for conspiring with Wal-Mart to unlawfully limit the medical care of Wal-Mart's employees. A "return to work focus" is a eupheism for letting employers and insuers do whatever they want in regards to the medical care of their workers. Irregardless of whether a court finds relationship between Concentra and Wal-Mart lawful, it's undeniable that employers and insurer's have a close relationship with occupational medicine doctors. By giving everyone a family doctor, the worker's doctor, not the employer's doctor will direct the workers medical payment.
The insurance industry argues that letting family doctor's control medical care will increase indemnity costs because family doctors will try to make their patient's happy by allowing them to "vacation" while collecting indemnity. But if an employee is able to work, many doctor's will tell you that working is good for over all well-being. The insurance industry also seems to assume that all doctors are bleeing heart patient advocates. This ignores the fact that doctors often share the widespread perception that injured workers are somehow "milking the system."
While the insurance companies fear of how a single payer system could change the workers' compensation system is overblown, I believe that employers would have less ability to wrongfully manipulate the care of their injured workers under a single-payer system.
Jon Rehm practices in Lincoln, Nebraska (Rehm, Bennett & Moore, PC, LLO). He concentrates his practice on representing injured workers and their families. He hold a degree in journalism from Northwestern University(B.S.) and a law degree from Nebraska College of Law(J.D.).