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Just how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will impact workers compensation costs and medical care under state workers compensation system remains a mystery.
As I talk to people in the comp industry they tell me they would like some insight on what the impact will be.
One resource I found is an interesting study by Rand Corp. available here. Or you can read the study's abstract below, which concludes that the Act may reduce workers comp medical costs.
“Although it is widely recognized that health care reform has the potential to affect the volume and cost of medical care received through the workers' compensation (WC) system, to date there is little empirical evidence of this effect,” the abstract says. “This study used the experience of Massachusetts, which implemented a health care reform package with several provisions similar to those in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, to empirically estimate how health reform impacts WC hospital care. It was found that WC billing frequency for both emergency room visits and inpatient hospitalizations fell by 5 to 10 percent as a result of reform, but that billed charges and treatment volume were not measurably affected. These impacts were observable among patients with more costly injuries and persisted even after various approaches were used to account for the effects of the economic downturn that began at the end of 2007. While many outstanding questions about the impacts of health reform on WC remain, this early quantitative, empirical evidence suggests that reform may reduce medical costs borne by the WC system.”