One of the biggest benefits of getting a job is getting health insurance. Unfortunately some workers have run into circumstances where they felt more like they got the health insurance to keep the job. Here are five ways to avoid the financial pitfalls of not being properly prepared in the case of workplace injuries.
Get familiar with short-term and long-term disability insurance beforehand
A majority of American adults are not investing in private, long-term disability insurance, according to a 2010 New York Times report. This may seem shocking, considering the Council for Disability Awareness states that, “Just over 1 in 4 of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire.” It’s very possible that some workers think it just won’t happen to them. But unless an employee’s savings includes at least three years of savings — the duration of the average long-term disability claim — investing in short-term and long-term disability is generally a good idea.
Keep documentation of any small injuries
Something as small as a sty in the eye or a fall that leads to a swollen knee should be reported immediately to Human Resources and upper management. Do not give an employer an opportunity to wonder if the injury happened off-the-clock. If the employer and the employee become embattled in a legal dispute over injuries, then injury law firms (ex. Bachus & Schanker Law) may need to get involved. While it may seem backwards to take on legal expenses, seasoned attorneys may be able to help clients avoid additional health expenses in the long run, specifically if the employer is found liable for the incident.
Know whether employer has workers’ compensation insurance
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private industry employees spent an average of $31.39 per hour worked for employee compensation in June of 2015. The average wage and salary was $21.82 per hour worked for 69.5 percent of these costs. But how would employees know if their employers are included in this bunch? The National Federation of Independent Business website gives a state-by-state rundown.
Consider a health savings account (HSA)
Assuming health and dental insurance are benefits with employers, co-payments and spending limits may help take on the brunt of health expenses. However, just as an auto insurance payment requires a certain amount be spent before the insurer will take care of the rest, so does the health care industry. Obviously an “accident” should come as a surprise, but having an HSA account could be a lifesaver in these circumstances. Some employers offer this option. So do banks, such as JP Morgan Chase and HSA Bank.
Sign up for a health insurance credit card
If all else fails, utilizing an emergency healthcare credit card, such as CareCredit, may not hurt to keep on hand. In the case of all of the above, it helps that HSA and health insurance credit cards must be used for medical and/or dental expenses so it doesn’t come with the same risk of overspending. Be wary of charges that could be pushed back, such as cosmetic health expenses, that aren’t mandatory.
While responsible spending and a nest egg are the best answer to any financial setback, an employer is aware that work injuries can happen. With proper record-keeping, reasonable savings and verifying benefits, workplace injuries don’t have to become a financial roller coaster.
This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her four-year-old husky Snowball.