Workers Comp Zone


America seems to be in the midst of a sea change about the concept of personal responsibility.

The latest reminder was the audience response to questions posed to Presidential candidate Ron Paul by moderator Wolf Blitzer at a recent GOP Presidential debate.

Should an uninsured 30 year old with a treatable condition who chose not to have health insurance die? Paul insisted that charity would step up to the plate, but some in the crowd cheered “let him die”: … about-sick

In most liberal political philosophic traditions, the common good is best served by social services that fill the void even where individuals make poor choices by design or by default.

The unspoken truth to the Blitzer hypothetical was that as many as half of the population has no health insurance. This includes many who would like to have it but either can not qualify because of preexisting exclusions or who can not pay the premium.

It’s not hard to imagine that many of those attending would have cheered
“let him die” even if he had been trying to get insurance.

We’re in an era where the people who grabbed lifeboats from the Titanic feel very superior to those who who were not so agile or lucky.

Many of those in the lifeboats, of course, see a populace that is infantilized, expecting some drug to cure them or some program to address their needs. And many of those with chronic needs are seen as having contributed little to the public weal or as having weak ties to the labor market.

But here in the blog let’s not get mired in the ongoing national debate about the role of government and the individual. I’m fond of musing about the interplay between larger political and societal trends and workers’ comp, but lets’ not get too far afield today.

Back to our workers’ comp world.

In workers’ comp benefits are guaranteed. An inept employee who heads right into a buzz saw will receive guaranteed benefits, including medical treatment, temporary disability monies and a financial settlement depending on the degree of the injury.

In our world employee fault is irrelevant. Co-factors such as smoking, dietary habits, obesity, and other co-existing health conditions may impact the worker’s recovery and impact the eventual extent of disability.

There’s increasing awareness that many of these problems can increase the cost of claims, affecting the cost of claims.

But there’s little attention paid in workers’ comp to the concept of personal responsibility.

If you’re an attorney, getting a weight loss program for a client authorized is often a major fight. If a client is motivated and wants to go to a gym to get in shape, that’s often seen as a personal choice rather than a medical necessity.

So the lines are blurred in workers’ comp. What is personal responsibility?
And even if some of these things are personal responsibility, is it in the carriers’ financial interest to help?

If you’re interested in delving more into different viewpoints on the Ron Paul response to Blitzer, here are 2 different viewpoints:

First, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman: … o-die.html
Second, a response from a blog sympathetic to Ron Paul: … -target-rp

Stay tuned.

Julius Young

Category: Political developments