Under Workers' Compensation Health Initiative, N.Y. Union Health Center Helps Injured Garment Workers, But Claims Take Long to be Decided

Development of a model care system to reduce or prevent disability among workers' compensation cases

From 1996 to 2000, the Union of Needletrades Industrial and Textile Employees created a union-based health program to provide more timely access to medical treatment for garment and textile workers in New York.

Investigators at New School University Health Policy Research Center conducted a descriptive evaluation of the project. The evaluation also described the patient population, their work-related injuries and the impact of these injuries on income and their medical benefits.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Workers' Compensation Health Initiative national program.

Key Results and Evaluation Findings:

  • In 1996, the union implemented a union-based health program that allowed injured workers to receive care while their claims were still under review, either through the union health center or, for those with third-party insurance, through outside facilities, if necessary.
  • The garment workers studied scored significantly lower than the general US population did on standardized scales of physical and mental health function.
  • The garment workers experienced a dramatic loss of medical benefits after developing their work-related conditions.
  • The garment workers experienced significant declines in their income after developing their work-related injuries.
  • On average, it took between 682 and 725 days for the garment workers' claims to be decided by the state workers' compensation board.
  • Garment workers reported more disability than did computer workers to whom they were compared.

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