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The danger of assumptions

The older I get, the more I understand the value of experience. (convenient, huh?)

The counter to that is one also learns – often the hard way – that assumptions – usually based on “experience” or “common knowledge” – can be dangerous indeed. Below, a few of the assumptions I’ve held at various times that turned out to be wrong.

More workers’ comp claims happen on Monday because workers hurt over the weekend wait till Monday to file so they can cheat the system.

Well, if there is a correlation, it is tiny. The NCCI did an excellent study last fall looking at the impact of the ACA on claims, here’s one of the study’s findings.

thanks to NCCI for their research on this

People without health insurance are more likely to file work comp claims.

Nope. In fact, the best research I’ve found – from RAND – indicates the opposite is true. That is, workers whose employers do NOT provide health insurance are LESS likely to file work comp claims.

This may be due to the employer-employee relationship; employees who perceive their bosses to be more benevolent may be more likely to file claims as they don’t think they will suffer retaliation.

People always act in their own self-interest.

This one is a bit more complicated. Generally, it is true – the key is how one defines “self-interest” – external entities can often convince people to act against what is their true self-interest via effective messaging. Poor white farmers joining the Confederate military to preserve a system that kept them desperately poor is one striking example; the anti-vaxxer campaign is another.

What does this mean for you?

Be ready to give up long-held beliefs in the face of solid evidence. It’s Ok to admit you’re wrong.

Apologies for my absence this week – getting back in action after dealing with the flu for a few days. I’m a lousy patient, as my long-suffering bride will attest.

5 thoughts on “The danger of assumptions”

  1. Glad you’re feeling better and are making this admission. We could all do better at admitting when we’re wrong….especially about our assumptions.

    1. Thanks Valerie – I’m whining less, which is more due to not getting any sympathy around here than recovering!

      thanks for the kind words

  2. I noticed the chart is for “medical only” claims. Do you know why that is and if there is the same data on ALL work comp claims?

    1. Hi Sue – sorry, you may not be able to see the legend on the chart – it does indicate the data is for moth Med Only and Lost Time claims.

  3. Joe, glad you are feeling better. Interesting about the Rand data finding that employees of employers who don’t provide health insurance file fewer comp claims. In a past life, our underwriters strongly considered provision of benefits to be a plus. I’m curious how strong would say the Rand data is? About assumptions, I think myself and others had a good reminder of that recently with the initial conclusions we made about the Lincoln Memorial incident with the Catholic high school students and the Native American group.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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