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The Impact of Health Care Reform on Employer Costs: An Analysis of the Massachusetts Experience

Poplaski, Joseph J. PhD; Poe, James A. BA; Menn, Eric R. BA

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 6 - p 605–609
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318221c580

Objective: The objective of this study was to learn if health care reform in Massachusetts lead to significant increases in diagnosis-specific short-term disability (STD) durations associated with specialist physician populations in short supply.

Methods: We examined group STD claim durations for Massachusetts-resident claimants, from Liberty Mutual's book of business, whose conditions generally required consultation or treatment by specialist physicians.

Results: Two specialties in short supply in Massachusetts, neurology and oncology, showed a significant increase in duration during 2008 and 2009.

Conclusions: Short-term disability durations for certain diagnoses associated with specialists in short supply have increased since the introduction of health care reform in Massachusetts. These increased durations will directly affect employer costs because short-term disability payments are generally borne by employers.

From the Liberty Mutual Group, Boston, Massachusetts.

Address correspondence to: Joseph J. Poplaski, PhD, Liberty Mutual Group, 175 Berkeley St., MS10A, Boston, MA 02116 (

No external funding was received for this study.

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine