Comcare proves insurers just don’t know what they are doing when it comes to workers health.

Public service workers compensation bill slashed by $450 million.


That’s the bragging headline from Noel Towell’s Sydney Morning Herald piece on the final outcome of Comcare’s slash and burn practices over the past year. The article provides the Comcare vision of their actions. They “got tough” with injured workers, they slashed the number of claims they approved, cut the number of services injured workers received through Comcare, and sold off part of their service to Allianz.

They did quite a number of things to ensure that their costs reduced. What they didn’t do is concentrate on getting injured workers better.

Now Comcare has had a number of significant short fallings over the years. It hasn’t moved from a service that did support recovery and health to a service that didn’t. It has moved to a service that was under resourced to support injured workers to a service that has embraced their under-resouceing and adopted the same model as Allianz. A model brilliant for the financial industry but totally wrong for an industry that advertises itself as health focused.

I do not wish this to sound too harsh to the case managers at Comcare, Most of those are still there from when Comcare wanted to help injured workers, when its model was based on service rather than finance. The blame for all of this lies squarely on the executive.

Comcare have adopted the same “return to work” definition as the private insurers and governments  which is: “not on our books anymore”. If you are unemployed, still in pain and disabled because of a workplace incident  but no longer receiving Comcare support – you have been returned to work according to them – the truth is the industry agreed a long time ago that saying returned to the job pool wouldn’t look good on a poster.

The capacity for an injured worker to challenge a Comcare decision should also be considered. If your claim is knocked back then you can appeal again to Comcare to reverse their decision. If Comcare says Comcare made the right decision your only choice is to lawyer up and go to the Administrative Decision Tribunal at your own expense. Good luck given that you’ve just lost your weekly income and may never be able to earn a similar amount again because that workplace just harmed you irrevocably.

Not many Comcare decisions are challenged in the ADT, much less than in the NSW system where legal support is paid for by WIRO.

So Comcare have made money by copying the financial business model of their private insurance friends saving $450 million for the Federal Government but entirely missing the point of having them exist in the first place and we get the stories. the cancelled physio that meant the caller could get through a week and do the housework. The order to go back to a workplace where the boss who had faced police charges for abusing the caller still worked.  The advice on approaching Centrelink, the question on affording counselling on the Newstart. The referrals to financial counsellors to meet monthly bills. – all because one of the workplaces Comcare covers injured these callers, and all because Comcare have decided that that injury is no longer worth their time to compensate.