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Who pays for work-related traumatic injuries? Payer distribution in Washington State by ethnicity, injury severity, and year (1998-2008).

Sears JM; Bowman SM; Adams D; Silverstein BA
Am J Ind Med 2013 Jul; 56(7):742-754
Background: Acute work-related trauma is a leading cause of death and disability for U.S. workers but it is difficult to obtain information about injured workers not covered by workers' compensation (WC). This study aimed to: (1) describe trends in expected payer and linkage to WC claims, (2) compare characteristics of injured workers who did and did not have a linked WC claim, and (3) describe variation in expected payer and linkage to WC claims by ethnicity and injury severity. Methods: Data for injuries occurring from 1998 through 2008 were obtained from the Washington State Trauma Registry and linked to WC claims. Results: We found that 27% of work-related traumatic injuries did not have WC listed as a payer, while 37% did not link to a WC claim. Among those with WC listed as a payer, the odds of having a linked WC claim were 57% lower for workers with other non-WC insurance compared with the otherwise uninsured. Latinos were more likely to have a linked WC claim compared with non-Latinos, but there was no significant difference after partially controlling for WC-covered employment and other insurance. Conclusions: This study demonstrated the importance of considering differential access to other insurance coverage and adaptation by health care settings to financial pressures when assessing trends in occupational injury incidence and reporting, especially when using WC as a proxy for work-relatedness. The addition of occupation, industry, and work status to trauma registries and hospital discharge databases would improve surveillance, research, policy and prevention efforts.
Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Workers; Disabled-workers; Racial-factors; Lost-work-days; Health-care; Information-retrieval-systems; Information-processing; Surveillance-programs; Sociological-factors; Occupations; Information-systems; Worker-health; Author Keywords: occupational injuries; workers' compensation; insurance coverage; injury surveillance; disparities; payer; trauma registries; traumatic injuries; Latino; Hispanic
Dr. Jeanne M. Sears, MS, PhD, RN, Department of Health Services, University ofWashington, Box 354809, Seattle,WA 98195
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R03-OH-009883; Grant-Number-T42-OH-008433; B20130805; M082013
Issue of Publication
Source Name
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Performing Organization
University of Washington, Seattle
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division