Barriers to use of workers' compensation for patient care at Massachusetts community health centers
Methods We conducted in-depth interviews with administrators and providers from a sample of CHCs and a mail survey of medical directors and chief financial administrators of all CHCs throughout Massachusetts.
Results Ten professionals from 8 CHCs completed interviews. Survey questionnaires were returned from 56 CHC sites (74%). Few CHCs formally discourage use of WC, but underutilization emerged as a major issue. Knowledge barriers included lack knowledge about the WC system and how to use it and uncertainty about work-relatedness. Systems barriers within CHCs included reliance on patients to identify work-relatedness of their conditions at registration, and difficulty tracking down WC insurance information. Patient hesitancy to use WC and excessive paper work were also barriers. Reimbursement delays and denials lead patients and CHCs to absorb costs of services.
Conclusions Findings underscore need for: 1) further research documenting denials, delays; 2) educational initiatives for CHC staff about the WC system and how to use it; 3) innovative strategies to provide occupational health support to CHC primary care providers; and 4) systems changes within CHCs and other resources for CHCs to address barriers in work flow. Efforts are underway in Massachusetts to implement these recommendations.
Learning Areas:Administration, management, leadership
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Occupational health and safety
Provision of health care to the public
Describe knowledge and system barriers community health centers face in using Workers' Compensation to cover the cost of patient care Provide examples of strategies to overcome these barriers.
Keyword(s): Workers' Compensation, Access to Care
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have done research on occuaptional health issues for over 30 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.