As workers’ compensation programs face crucial financial distress, many employers and insurance carriers are facing not only financial implications associated with employees who suffer sudden, accidental injuries, but also financial ramifications associated with employees experiencing diseases of life which are directly attributed to the use of specific chemicals in the work environment. With the baby boomer population entering the period of aging, it is anticipated there will be an overwhelming spike in work related cancer diagnoses in the coming decade. Of these workers’ compensation cases, the incidence of bladder cancer is expected to become an issue of concern for specific industrial lines of business. For the aging population, it is important to understand the connection of bladder cancer to employment history, the symptoms of bladder cancer and the associated treatment options, as education in these health issues may facilitate early diagnosis and treatment and prompt coverage under the workers’ compensation claim.
Bladder cancer, commonly found in the aging population, more often afflicts men than women. However, with evidence revealing a correlation between bladder cancer and certain industrial toxin exposures, the demographics associated with bladder cancer are anticipated to change over the next decade as many more employees are diagnosed with bladder cancer which may be attributed to the exposure to paints, leather and even organic chemicals.
Symptoms of bladder cancer, to complicate matters further, are often misdiagnosed or mishandled in a workers’ compensation case with many insurance carriers treating these disease claims as normal progressions of the aging process rather than a direct relationship to the work environment. For this reason, when diagnosed with bladder cancer, after working for an employer in an “at risk” environmental field, it is imperative, as the employee, to obtain clear and concise medical documentation related to the current bladder cancer diagnosis in addition to prior health history. It is an unfortunate situation; however, many employers and insurance carriers are denying cancer related workers’ compensation cases, attributing the diagnosis to another health related activity, such as smoking.
While submitting a workers’ compensation claim for bladder cancer can become a complex battle between the employee, the physicians, the employer and the insurance carrier, it is imperative that employees suffering with the work related disease not wait to seek out necessary treatments while the workers’ compensation claim is pending. In most jurisdictions, the Workers’ Compensation Act will provide for payment of health services, incurred while the workers’ compensation claim was under investigation, once the claim is approved. While the workers’ compensation investigation can take days, or even weeks and months to complete, the employee would serve well to seek the necessary bladder cancer related treatment as soon as medically recommended.
As with any health related issue involving a workers’ compensation claim, the employee should understand the complex nature in which insurance carriers and employers work to provide workers’ compensation coverage and, therefore, anticipate initial rejection of any claim for a work related disease and prepare for not only the health related battle of bladder cancer but also the battle associated with the legal and insurance aspect of obtaining and approved workers’ compensation claim.