Thursday, September 17, 2009

Workers Comp for Lap Band? . . .

PS (Pre Script) - Thanks to my friend NYtoVa/Carrie for sharing this story with me . . .

Here's where the world of medical/legal drama could get interesting and the idea of "self responsibility alone" for obesity could get confused while the clear impact of obesity in the workplace could get simplified (it's a story that has my head spinning).

Here's the basic premise . . . a guy (who is obese) works at a pizza place. He gets hit in the back by a freezer door and blows out his knee. He needs knee surgery for the pain to go away but most lose considerable weight for the knee surgery to work/help. He opts for lap band surgery.

The man files for workman's compensation for the knee surgery AND the banding. And the court agrees the pizza place (a small business with considerable impact from insurance claims in the sum of the $25,000ish it would cost for these two procedures. If you want all the details, read out this article. If you want my perspective -read on.

I've still got your attention? Good, my loyal, little follower (smile)!

Two thoughts on this. ONE - the idea that obesity surgery is and should be covered by all health insurance policies (which is actually a responsibility of each state to mandate coverage first, not an issue of the insurance companies (foresay)) is not really up for dispute in my opinion (to repeat myself one more time - they don't deny oncology treatment for chronic smokers (thank you very much, American Lung Association)) and I think that all employers, regardless of size should provide health insurance and certainly workman's comp coverage for all employees (that's the raging Communist (just ask my Kansan co-workers) in me, though). So the idea of forcing the business to pay for the KNEE surgery is not an issue for me. The forcing to pay for the lap band surgery IS a concern for me . . . but not maybe for the reason you might expect.

I'm NOT in favor of this pizza place having to pay for the lap band because of one very simple echo effect . . . that business owner will probably NEVER hire an obese person again. And his fellow small business owners who read about the financial impact on the guy and his business might not too and - here we are again - continuing sizism and perpetuating the idea that hiring the obese is a potential liability (we take more sick time, we have more serious injuries, our productivity lags, our moods swing more, we cost more in real resources, etc. - this is all just fact).

Anywho, I'm happy for the guy with the bum knee. I hope he gets feeling better and I hope the weight stays off and I hope he bucks the stats and trends on lap banders (no offense, believers) and I hope that small businesses do the right thing and continue to hire people regardless of their physical mass.

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