The Financial Services Council (FSC) has sought to back its calls to allow life insurers to play a role in injured worker rehabilitation by producing new research claiming it could prove a “win, win, win” for individuals, government and the life insurers themselves.
Faced by opposition to such a move from some unions and other stakeholders, the FSC today released research from Cadence Economics, sponsored by insurers BT and Metlife, which found that changes to the regulatory regime to allow life insurer involvement in worker rehabilitation could provide benefits to a pool of up to 10,118 people a year.
It found that, of this pool, 1,378 people could benefit in terms of cost-effectiveness and early intervention.
The FSC pointed to the Cadence analysis as also meaning that an estimated 87 people per year could be prevented from becoming totally and permanently disabled as a result of receiving additional healthcare intervention paid for by life insurers.
It said that because numerous research reports showed returning to work could play an important role in a person’s recovery, Cadence had also tested how allowing the restricted treatment would benefit individuals in returning to work.
The report estimated early intervention by life insurers could improve return to work times by an estimated five weeks, from 18 to 13 weeks.
Commenting on the research, FSC chief executive, Sally Loane, said it clearly showed that allowing life insurers to enable the provision of health treatment earlier had the potential to increase the quality of life for individuals and provide a better chance to return to wellness.
“In some cases, it may even reduce the likelihood of someone becoming permanently disabled,” she said.
“By removing the existing barriers, which do not exist in other markets, these early interventions have the potential to allow customers to return to work five weeks earlier and will deliver significant short, medium and long-term benefits to the Australian economy,” Loane said.
“This research clearly demonstrates to policymakers that the changes proposed by the Financial Services Council would deliver better outcomes for all Australians with a simple reform to existing legislation.”