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Integrate workers comp to cut health costs: Study

Posted On: Oct. 26, 2009 12:00 AM CST

Integrating workers compensation medical benefits and nonoccupational medical treatment under a “24-hour care” system could help pay for a “large fraction” of universal health care coverage, a study concludes.

Integrating occupational and nonoccupational treatment would produce savings between $490 billion and $560 billion during the first 10 years, according to the report by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Savings would result from the much greater efficiency with which health insurance delivers care compared to workers compensation insurance,” according to the report released late last week that was funded by a grant from the Oakland-based California HealthCare Foundation.

“Only 12% to 14% of health insurance premiums go toward administration and profit,” researchers said in the report.

“Workers compensation turns this ratio on its head, spending the majority (50-60%) of premiums on these same overhead costs,” the researchers found. “Consequently, while occupational medical treatment represents a small portion of all treatment, the savings from integrating under private health insurance model would be substantial.”

The report, “Comparing the Costs of Delivering Medical Benefits Under Group Health and Workers' Compensation—Could Integration Pay for Cover the Working Uninsured?” is available at