Recently, my fellow blogger, David De Paolo mused about why the workers’ compensation industry is failing to attract top talent and younger people as the “old farts” die off, as Scott Hudson, the CEO of Gallagher Bassett spoke about at a workers’ compensation educational conference.
David asked the following questions, to which I would like to respond. He asked: Why can’t we attract top talent into our industry? Why can’t we have the big thinkers, people that go outside of the box to solve our problems, to bring good things to life?
As many of my readers know, I have been a passionate advocate of implementing medical travel (i.e., medical tourism) into workers’ compensation, so that injured workers can receive the same high quality medical care that those with private or group health plans are getting from medical care abroad, and so that their employers can truly realize cost savings from expensive surgeries for common workers’ compensation injuries.
In my previous post, There Are No Words, I told you that my other fellow blogger, Joe Paduda, listed me as one of the people who makes workers compensation great. He even said that I am far in front of the crowd on this.
I have received some other words of encouragement and support from people outside of the workers’ comp industry, mainly in health care and medical tourism. In fact, one of my re-publishers gave me an entire page on her website called “Outside the Box”.
The reason she did that, and the reason that these individuals have acknowledge my writing is, to answer David’s questions, because I am a big thinker who can go outside the box, but it seems that the box is in reality a padded cell, and the “patient” inside is straitjacketed, as far as the “old farts” are concerned.
I have written about aged statutes and old case law, about a broken and dysfunctional system rife with fraud and abuse, the expansion of opt-out programs and the demand for bundling of work comp and health care, how it is under assault and challenge on the constitutionality of the so-called “Grand Bargain” upon which workers’ compensation rests, and the entrenched special interests in the medical-legal world who want the status quo.
So no wonder younger people are staying away from the workers’ compensation industry. It would be the same if the horse and buggy industry tried to recruit younger people to work for them. Who wants to work in an industry that is stuck in the past, in both mindset and in law?
That is not the case in health care, as far as new technology is concerned, but there are other areas, such as providing affordable, universal coverage to all Americans, but in the main, the larger health care industry, as I pointed out in Miami Beach: Fun, Sun and Medical Tourism, when I quoted Thomas Ryan of Lynch Ryan:
“When it comes to technological innovations, the health care industry’s advancements dwarf anything that’s developed in the workers’ comp industry for years.”
He went on to say that: “The P/C insurance industry is very slow to innovate and is lagging behind other industries, as well as other parts of the insurance industry, in adoption and rapid movement to technology usage and innovation,”. He added that “the workers’ comp industry is way behind and it must catch up.”
So it is no accident that today’s college graduates, those who just have a four-year degree, or those who go on for their MBA’s, run from the workers’ comp industry as if it had leprosy (I would have mentioned Ebola, but that analogy is too modern for the work comp industry to comprehend).
David’s post talked about recognizing the good things that workers’ comp does, and he is correct to say that, because for the most part, it does. Yet as we all know, the good news does not lead on the evening news, the bad news does, whether it is Ferguson, Iraq, Mork’s suicide, etc., the feel-good news comes at the end, or not at all.
However, it must be understood that when anyone such as myself criticizes the industry, it is because we want everyone to benefit from it, not just those who do because their claims are cut and dry. I know what I am talking about, I was a Claims Examiner and Claims Administrator in New York for a mid-size insurance carrier and for a retail insurance broker handling a wrap-up program for a very large public agency in the New York/New Jersey area.
But it makes no sense to want to attract big thinkers who can go outside the box, if the box is set in concrete and the “patient” is in a straitjacket, and his “doctors” refuse to accept modern forms of treatment.
If you want things to change in workers’ comp, then you need a little Robin Williams craziness, a little Jonathan Winters zaniness, and you need people who are not as constrained in their thinking as those who are inside the box.
Schopenhauer said this, and I think you should all think about it: “Every man takes the limits of his field of vision for the limits of the world”. It’s high time we change our field of vision and break out of the box, and escape from the padded cell.