Getting a handle on the rising costs of employee health and wellness programs is a perpetual battle for any business. For most organizations, though, the one area that is often the toughest to tame is workers’ compensation, the state mandated insurance programs that cover work-related illness or injury. Since the 1990’s the average cost of workers’ compensation claims has risen steadily, even though the number of claims has declined, with the result that overall workers’ comp premiums have climbed ever higher. One popular new strategy to keep these costs under control is to have an established relationship with an occupational health clinic.
By using a designated clinic that specializes in occupational health to attend to any work-related injuries or illnesses, the argument goes, your employees will be assured of getting treated by professionals familiar with work-place medical problems. Rather than having workers deal with a general practitioner or a generic emergency room, where the staff may have little knowledge of occupational health issues, and whose fee structures are wildly unpredictable, they will be seen by a physicians trained in the field, with a prior relationship with your business, and at a known cost.
And since the costs covered by workers’ comp include payment for time and wages lost as well as direct medical expenses, another big payoff from having a direct relationship with an occupational health clinic is that these facilities have a better track record for getting employees back to work more quickly, thus reducing or in many cases eliminating costly insurance payouts for time lost. Another, and rather important, beneficial effect is that workers treated in a designated occupational clinic are far less likely to seek further compensation or legal damages than those treated by a general care facility.
On top of the emergency related—and hopefully rare—workers’ comp benefits that come with including a go-to occupational clinic in your employee health and wellness planning there are wide range of ongoing health services that these clinics can also provide you from pre-employment physicals, drug-screening, vision and hearing testing, D.O.T. exams for drivers, and workplace health education, all of which will not only bring your direct costs down but will communicate to your employees that you are directly concerned with and involved in their ongoing health and wellness.
Taken together, the advantages of having an established relationship with an occupational health clinic—in addition to the direct effect it can have on making one of your largest potential liabilities more manageable—mean that the health of your business as well as its employees can only improve in their care. Do you already have a relationship with a clinic? Let us know the pros and cons and the impact on your employee’s health.
Dave Sinclair, CEO The WorkPlace Solution