Recently, I read about the New York Department of Labor’s Workplace Safety and Loss Prevention Program, or Code Rule 60, in a blog about workers’ compensation called, Workers’ Comp Insider, a blog created by Lynch Ryan, a management consulting firm specializing in workers’ compensation cost containment. In the article entitled, A Modest Proposal for New York, the author, Tom Lynch, explains how the Code Rule 60, which was intended to allow employers to have safer workplaces, and eventually lower costs, actually is so bureaucratic, that in Lynch’s words, “it would be easier for a New York employer to find his way through a dense maze of thorns, blindfolded, than to negotiate the journey to Code Rule 60 certification.”
Lynch points out that New York’s vested interests, i.e., lawyers, doctors, insurers, unions, the Legislature, employers, and others, will not come to any grand bargain soon. He describes how the program is supposed to work by having the Department of Labor certify employers for establishing safety, return to work, and drug and alcohol programs, for which they will get premium credits of varying percentages, from 4% for safety and return to work programs, to 2% for drug and alcohol prevention programs. The 4% credits drop to 2% in the second and third years of a three-year period. And this program only applies to employers with experience modifiers of less than 1.3.
While establishing safety, return to work, and drug and alcohol prevention programs are a must for all employers, certainly more can be done to lower costs for employers, especially in regard to serious injuries that require expensive surgery and rehabilitation, as well as a speedy return to employment. One such way employers can help lower costs of expensive workers’ compensation claims that require surgery and treatment that cost thousands of dollars, is to implement medical tourism into workers’ compensation, as an option for their employees to choose when expensive surgery and treatment is ordered by a physician.
For many of the common surgeries performed in the US in workers’ compensation cases, the costs of those surgeries are lower or half the cost abroad, as they are at home, with the same or better quality at hospitals that have the latest equipment and technology. And with physicians trained in the US or other Western countries, plus accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI), it is no wonder more employers are utilizing medical tourism for their group health care plans.
Employees, many of whom come from Latin American, Central American or Caribbean nations will benefit from having treatment in familiar surroundings, with no language or cultural barriers, and will even have the psychological satisfaction of knowing that they are being treated in the best hospitals of their home countries, which will speed their recovery and lead to a more happy and productive employee when he returns to active work. His friends and family will take pride in knowing that he chose the best care possible, in a hospital that many of his fellow countrymen could never go to, and that will help raise his self-esteem.
For a New York employer to not take advantage of this opportunity, would be just as bad as finding their way through the bureaucratic maze called Code Rule 60.