“Sensitive claims sent to branch offices – ACC
Hundreds of sensitive ACC claims – those related to rape and other sexual abuse – have been transferred out of the corporation’s Sensitive Claims Unit to case managers in regional branch offices, the corporation has said.
Claimant advocacy groups are shocked by the move they say was made without consultation and in some cases without fully informing claimants.”
This story appeared in the Herald last week detailing the rumour suggested in my last blog. The breach of the ACC’s own protocols about how sensitive claimants privacy are managed is deeply concerning, despite how the ACC might spin it. But why have some 250 clients files been transferred outside of the Sensitive Claims Unit?
Well, it’s a bit of story. But worth the telling.
Insurance trades in numbers. One of those numbers is liabilities. In the world of the ACC this is the anticipated future cost of current claims. If someone is severely disabled and been on weekly compensation for longer than five years the odds are (according to actuaries, the profession that works all this stuff out) that they won’t work again and their “cost” to the ACC is calculated to retirement age.
It is these liabilities that have been targeted over the last three years to help decrease the ACC’s costs and improve it’s financial position. So simple right? To reduce costs, target the most expensive claims. But here’s the stinger: the most expensive “liabilities” are also generally the most in need of care.
These “liabilities” are also people.
Social psychologists have shown when we are able to frame “the other” to ourselves in some distant or degrading fashion with language, we are able to behave heartlessly. This is particularly true if we are part of an large group that reinforces or encourages such behaviour. Some might cynically suggest it’s how all beauracracies work. This process certainly underpins all racism and predjudice.
So this is how the ACC’s Senior Actuary explained the Corporation’s attitude to long term claimants at a Brisbane actuarial conference in November 2011 (emphasis added):
“There’s also been a focus on long term weekly comp clients. So there’s been RIS initiative set up, which is Recovery Independence Services, so basically going through all the claims, the targeted claims that have been on the scheme of 2 1⁄2 years or more; reviewing each of those claims to ensure that they are still eligible for ACC under the legislation; And for the first year of that a lot of it was the ‘low hanging fruit’ they were able to get. And now they’re starting to get onto the ‘harder’ claims to remove -‐ to ensure that they are appropriately serviced” (Wayne Anderson, Senior Actuary, ACC) (click here for audio of that presentation)
One can only assume “low hanging fruit” is not a technical actuarial term.
The Recovering Independence Service is a group of case managers who are specifically trained to manage and target long term claims. The full plan is outlined in this document obtained under the Official Information Act and passed onto me by a friend. It is clear proof that the ACC’s intention all along has been to save money by getting long term claimants off claim. It is most certainly the reason for the RIS’s existence:
“These actions include re-assigning current resources to selected high cost claims where there is the potential for quick wins through targeted intervention… …The potential therefore for the greatest reduction in the liability comes from achieving exits from the Scheme of those claims of 5+ years..” ACC: Executive Leadership Team Issues Paper, February 2009.
So here’s the real concern about this secret transfer of clients carried out by the ACC. These 250 sensitive claimants have been moved to the group of case managers that are the sharp edge of a plan to manage clients off claim, or in actuarial terms, obtain “actuarial release.”
Since the changes to the Sensitive Claims treatment pathway in 2009 the ACC have consistently claimed these changes are not about costs. (See: Someone really should tell them). This is further proof they have been lying from the start. (See also: The Swamp Creatures).
And in my opinion it’s now the ACC’s approach to clients that is the real liability.