Workers compensation benefits jumping the border

By  Published: Apr 8, 2012 at 6:45 PM PDT

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Getting hurt on the job in Washington doesn’t mean you have to stay here. It’s common for people getting worker’s compensation after an accident to have to move locations, so they can find work doing something else, but it goes far beyond Idaho and Oregon.

KEPR found out that Washington’s L&I has a growing department just for claims and pensions being sent outside of the country.

Labor and Industries spokesman, Hector Castro explains, “If they injured worker leaves the state, we still have the obligation to insure they have the medical care they need to become whole again.”
Right now, Washington’s Labor and Industries is paying benefits to over 100 injured workers outside of the United States. Just in 2011, about $40,000 dollars of workers comp money was sent to Canada. Almost $300,000 was sent south of the border.

In an economy like this, business owners struggle with increasing L&I rates.. Without reaping the benefits. Country Gentleman owner, Steve Simmons explains, “It’s frustrating to see that money go out of the country.”

Employers and employees alike who pay into this pool of money, insuring they’ll get help in their time of need. “Thats what the systems in place for,” says Castro.
Simmons replies, “An injured worker needs to be taken care of and taken care of properly.”

What they are just concerned about is check ups after the claims are set. Simmons says, “L&I cant stay on top of the legitimacy of claims that are out of the country.Are they trying to get off pension? Are they finding ways to get back to work?”

It turns out there is some benefits to injured workers moving abroad. The healthcare in other countries is significantly cheaper, meaning L&I is forking out less money and there’s more compensation left for workers here in Washington.

Castro says, “For instance in Mexico, even if we paid 100% of medical care its less expensive than in the United States.”
Despite this, L&I doesn’t want to continue paying so much out of the country because of the time, money and difficulty in management. He continues, “We do what we can to encourage people to stay in Washington.”

Keeping track of your tax dollars… until the jump the border. L&I awarded over a billion dollars last year nationwide.

KEPRTV.COM

Posted on April 9, 2012, in insurance, Private Investigators, workers comp and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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