2.2M Texas Women Uninsured, Workers Compensation Not Stepping In

Texas Insurance

A recent article published online by the Dallas News highlights an ongoing issue in Texas related to women’s health: 2.2 million women and girls in the state still lack adequate health insurance. However, the problem extends beyond just access to health insurance. Texas is one of only a small number of U.S. states where Workers Compensation is not commonly required. This issue may be compounding issues for many uninsured women in Texas.

According to the National Federation of International Business (NFIB), Texas only makes it mandatory for employers to purchase Workers Compensation coverage under very limited conditions, including “construction contracts for government entities”.  For many women in Texas, this may mean that a workplace injury not only results in a significant loss of income but when such injuries occur while uninsured, many women may face significant financial hardships as a result.

At present, Texas has no laws that prevent employers from firing or laying off injured workers. A survey conducted by the Texas Department of Insurance found that 21 percent of respondents claimed that they were fired or laid off after a workplace injury (though not necessarily as a result). Among the most cited reasons for being laid off were “the employer said the injured worker was physically unable to perform any of the job duties,” and “because they filed a workers’ compensation claim.”

However, the analysis conducted by the Texas department also indicated that employers should be conscious of laying off workers for this reason, as “these injured workers often are involved in more workers’ compensation disputes; receive more financial assistance outside of workers’ compensation benefits (e.g., food stamps, Social Security Disability Income, etc.) and encounter more personal hardships than injured workers who were able to go back to work with their former employer.”

Both inside and outside of Texas, some employers are finding value in Workers Compensation and “return-to-work” programs. While some employers have implemented these return-to-work programs to great effect, a Department of Labor study found them to be overly expensive for the employer. Nevertheless, either option or a combination of both may be the least expensive route for an employer, particularly when accounting for the high potential cost of Workers Compensation lawsuits.