As another year rapidly ends, it is time again for a prospective look at the year ahead. As an Ohio workers’ compensation practitioner, I see three issues that may have significant effects on the workers’ compensation system in the near future:

  1. Healthcare reform (aka Obamacare). With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2009 and its upholding by the Supreme Court earlier this year, most businesses are readying themselves for significant changes regarding employee healthcare in 2013. One potential upside for employers is that more pre-existing conditions may be covered under individual healthcare and thus less of an issue in the workers’ compensation realm. One downside, however, is that increased national regulation will most likely entail additional costs for employers to ensure compliance with healthcare and workers’ compensation laws.
  2. Immigration legislation. The passage of immigration reform would be significant, as it would most likely go to the heart of what defines an employer-employee relationship. Laws that would lessen restrictions on undocumented immigrants may have the unintended consequence of encouraging undocumented workers to file claims against alleged employers.
  3. The expanding oil and gas industry. Here in Ohio, as in other areas of the country, the hydraulic fracturing industry is booming. With this rapid expansion, there comes a greater risk for damage to persons and property, especially those individuals who work in the industry. Medical conditions related to hydraulic fracking are as minor as an abrasion or as significant as developing an occupational disease, such as silicosis. Though Ohio will see a welcomed boom in business with the expansion of oil and gas, there will be related costs, and workers’ compensation may be chief among them.