State legislatures across the country are reforming workers' compensation law in attempts to lower the cost of worker's compensation insurance for businesses. By lowering the cost of such insurance, employers pay less for coverage and insurers reap the benefits in profits as well. Meanwhile, workers receive less coverage and some who need serious medical help have difficulty even receiving basic medical needs. The costs shift then to taxpayers who must pay taxes to cover Social Security Disability payments, Medicare and Medicaid programs that must take over the bills for medical costs and lost wages that result from worker's compensation claims. An economic study shows that workers' comp covers less than 1/3 of injured worker's medical costs and lost earnings and that as a result, they have no choice but to turn to government programs for aid.
In the past decade, 33 states have passed worker's compensation "reform" laws that reduce benefits for workers and make it difficult or impossible for some workers to qualify at all. Since states institute their own laws for worker's compensation, the amount that a worker will receive for the same injury will vary - with the loss of an eye equating to $27,000 in Alabama and $261,525 in Pennsylvania. Often, workers with serious injuries have the most difficulty getting the assistance they need; even when doctors recommend a course of treatment, the insurance companies still refuse to allow the worker to receive what is recommended. Many lobbyists and parties responsible for the change in law that is causing so much turmoil for workers stand behind their decisions, sometimes citing the need "to motivate workers to get back to work" as a reason to lower the amount of benefits they can receive. Until the federal government starts to really take notice of the disparities among states and workers, there is nothing to stop legislatures from continuing to push laws that benefit big business and insurance companies at the expense of workers.