Other types of insurance are among the payers of healthcare “that we tend to forget about,” said David Auerbach, a health policy researcher at RAND and one of the study authors. “There was a lack of any hard information or rigorous analysis in this area.”
Workers' compensation payouts are anticipated to drop by more than $900 million in 2016, the researchers estimated. To understand why, the RAND report cites several examples. For instance, if a worker without health insurance suffers an injury over the weekend, that person may claim the injury was sustained on the job and seek workers' compensation. But if the person now has health coverage due to the Affordable Care Act, they are more likely to use their health plan to get any needed healthcare.
Auto insurance payouts are anticipated to decline by $740 million in 2016, the researchers said. That includes claims paid directly to the individuals who carry the policies and those paid to other individuals involved in the auto accidents. As with workers' compensation insurance, people will be more likely to seek care for a pre-existing condition through their health plan rather than claiming it was due to an auto accident.
Those reductions in liability claims are anticipated to be partially offset by an increase in medical malpractice claims. That's because insured people are more likely than uninsured people to seek medical treatment, and therefore are more likely to experience medical errors or adverse outcomes and seek compensation.
Auerbach cautioned that these are preliminary projections based on partial data. He expects further studies to provide greater clarity on the law's ramification for other types of insurance claims.
But he sees a positive impact on the other areas of insurance because such policies will pay for more of what they were intended for. Paying for healthcare “is not really their thing,” Auerbach said. “Health insurers are more versed in thinking about how to manage healthcare.”