Shock finding that ACC cover improves people’s lives

Written By: - Date published: 8:50 am, November 12th, 2013 - 38 comments
Categories: ACC, national, same old national - Tags:

acc undermine cut privatise

And from the statement of the bleedingly obvious file the Herald recently reported on a Massey University study that found that those with a spinal cord injury who are covered by ACC are more likely to get back to work while those who don’t receive assistance start a downward spiral into poverty.

Which really makes you question ACC’s insistence on refusing as many claims for back injury amongst others as possible on the grounds that it is part of the ageing process rather than an injury.  Because if these people were rehabilitated and received the necessary medical treatment then they would have a good chance of getting themselves back into work whereas those who do not receive treatment are almost inevitably destined to a life of increasing pain and greater reliance on the state to survive.

This situation has existed for a while.  A 2010 Herald article highlighted some cases where cover was declined and after reading them you have to wonder at the sort of mental gymnastics that had to be used to justify a decision to refuse.

The study itself makes for interesting reading.  The author of the study, Associate Professor Sarah Derrett is quoted as saying:

A key message from this research is that ACC performs very well in terms of both helping people return to work and preventing the downward spiral into poverty. However, at present, the types of supports available to New Zealanders not covered and with the same level of impairment are unfair.”

It is not as if ACC cannot afford to increase the provision of treatment.  This year it posted a surplus of $4.9 billion dollars and it has $24.6 billion in reserves in its quest to have all of its outstanding claims liability fully funded.  And there is I am sure a long term financial benefit to NZ Inc in getting people back onto their feet.

But in this Government’s quest for greater and greater savings and a more leaner system it has managed to rob ACC of some of its humanity.  And needlessly blighted the lives of people when a bit of help could do wonders.

38 comments on “Shock finding that ACC cover improves people’s lives”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    This is really a case of “where does ACC cover end and state health provision begin”. These people are falling down the crack between them.

    • infused 1.1

      Pretty much this. Acc can’t be everything to everyone.

      • miravox 1.1.1

        True. But the health system can provide similar rehabilitation for people with long-term illness.

        • northshoredoc

          I’ll think you’ll find we can’t……….. money, staff, resources aren’t there at the moment.

          • miravox

            That depends whether the benefits are being costed only within the health service, or within the wider societal costs. For instance, say the MSD picked up a rehabilitation cost to get someone back into work?

            • Naturesong

              The good doctors at MSD already do this.
              Work is the cure for all long term illness.

              However this may have something to do with the ideological litmus test it appears they currently must pass in order to word for MSD.

              • miravox

                I mean for people who are not necessarily on a benefit, but are quite capable with a little help, to go back to paid employment and pay it back with some taxes…

                Invalid beneficiaries have such a hard time and I have a lot of sympathy for the situations of those forced back to work.

          • infused

            Been in a&e a few times over the last few months. I feel sorry for the guys. Def not enough money/resources available there.

      • Tracey 1.1.2

        actually it was very much everything to everyone when established. THAT was the point. By removing the right to sue EVERYTHING by way of personal injury needed to be covered. I agree that a genetic spinal degeneration is not a personal injury by accident BUT it costs time and money to challenge a decision that takes NO as its default position.

        the policy direction from on high has determined that spinal “injuries” are probably genetic so not covered making the frontline at ACC use genetic as their default position.

        its not about ACC’s ability to cover but about govt’s decisions to limit what it covers, notwithstanding the huge asset base it has built up to cover all future claims.

  2. One Anonymous Knucklehead 2

    ACC was and still is revolutionary: a sane, globally admired and above all human response to a genuine problem. That our politicians – and particularly the National Party, fail to understand this would render them a laughing stock if the damage they were doing were trivial. It isn’t.

  3. djp 3

    When you find a cure for old age let us know

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      And yet, most people who become old don’t suffer debilitating back injuries.

      • djp 3.1.1

        The ones that do however are much less likely to recover 100% (with or without ACC support)

        • Lanthanide

          Honestly I’m not even sure what that means.

          Obviously someone who is older and has a back injury won’t be able to recover their back mobility to someone who is 20 and has a back injury. But they can get back to the same level of back mobility as someone their own age.

          • djp

            I don’t think that older people heal as well as younger people, they just don’t have the same vitality.

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead

              And that means ACC should get lawyers to comb through the legislation for an excuse not to cover their injuries, eh. Righto.

              • djp

                please dont put words in my mouth.

                ACC is making the arguement that these are not injuries caused by accident (if that even makes sense). It has always been the case that if you are dehabilated by something not an accident you are probably going to have a bad time (ie genetics, disease or old age)

                • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                  I know ACC are advancing this argument. That’s what I said in fact. The “argument” is bullshit no matter whose mouth it’s dribbling from; ACC has been vandalised by Tory scum who take bribes from the insurance industry; all this is in the public domain.

            • Lanthanide

              In that case, [citation needed].

              • djp

                Are you serious?

                Unless you hail from the MacLeod clan most people are intimately aware of this. We all must come to grips with it upon reaching adulthood.

                • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                  Yeah, but what’s unclear is why Tory scum think it’s a reason for ACC not to cover injuries.

                  (Other than the documented fact that they take bribes from the insurance industry, that is.)

                • Tracey

                  Why the MacLeod clan?

                  • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                    Because Wingnuts get their political philosophy from B movies. This particular B-movie – “Highlander”, is a story about a wingnut who uses immortality to extend his property portfolio and weapons collection.

                • Lanthanide

                  You said “much less likely”. I want some sort of citation for how much less likely.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.2

      When you can advance a rational argument as to why ACC should try to duck its responsibilities, let us know.

  4. Naturesong 4

    More detail here:

    Main academics involved are Dr Martin Sullivan from Massey’s School of Health and Social Services (principal investigator), Massey University Associate Professor Sarah Derrett and Emeritus Professor Charlotte Paul from the University of Otago.

    Mickey, did you manage to find their previous research conducted in a similar vein, and with similar findings, about stroke victims?

    • mickysavage 4.1

      Hi Naturesong.

      No I have not and a quick google has not come up with any links.

      I think there is an argument for ACC to be increased to cover areas such as strokes where there has been no cover in the past.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.1.1

        Not while ACC continues to employ corrupt doctors to avoid its responsibilities.

  5. xtasy 5

    “Because if these people were rehabilitated and received the necessary medical treatment then they would have a good chance of getting themselves back into work whereas those who do not receive treatment are almost inevitably destined to a life of increasing pain and greater reliance on the state to survive.”

    Oh, really now, is this something new, has someone “seen the light” after all?

    There are thousands that were once on ACC and are now on WINZ benefits, as they were shifted onto the former invalid’s and sickness benefits, now called differently (Supported Living and Jobseeker benefits). Many were also told they do no longer qualify for ACC payments, as they were after some rehabilitation and re-assessments (some actually firmly disputed and based on questionable practices by hand-picked “assessors”) suddenly found “fit” to do some work.

    Yes, in principle this is what should be done, and rehabilitation and proper support will work for many, and be more cost effective and beneficial long term, and that is how ACC and also WINZ should work with their “clients” or “customers”.

    The truth is often far from it, especially when it comes to WINZ, and while this government now claims that they do more to “help” beneficiaries back into work, most of the extra money has gone into extra staff at WINZ offices that are used for more “intensive” case management, which for many will mean, more “pressurising” and more referring of persons – to either go and find any “suitable” work, which may be “hypothetical” jobs, based on their “designated doctors'” and Dr Bratt’s bizarre new interpretation of what persons “can” and should do. Like his mentor Mansel Aylward, he seems to think that most claimed “illness” is nothing but “illness belief”!?

    We look at “what people can do” rather than what they “cannot do” is the new catch-phrase, and that means if you have a damaged, painful back, suffer musculo-skeletal conditions or are mentally ill, you can do some “work” in sitting, a few hours a week, or whatever.

    There is NO EVIDENCE of additional treatment having been offered by WINZ themselves, nor through health care providers, indeed I have learned through people affected, that here in Auckland, there have been “cuts” to spending, or “caps” applied, for services like Procare Psychological Services, CADS and the likes. So the government is talking CRAP, when they say they do more to “help” people, as treatments are not offered, apart perhaps GPs prescribing more drugs, and others told to “toughen up” and learn to live with pain.

    Talking about ACC, there is an ACC Forum, where some have for many years been sharing their experiences with ACC (sadly some there are having some “issues with each other also). But they have also dedicated some posts and lots of information to assist those on WINZ benefits, as many formerly on ACC end up there. Perhaps have a read:

    There is more found there, and I can only remind many here, beware of WINZ hatchet doctors (as some of their preferred “designated doctors” definitely are), and also of certain hand-picked, often well-known ACC hatchet assessors.

    • xtasy 5.1

      Apologies, this is what a chapter in my comment above should have read:

      “The truth is often far from it, especially when it comes to WINZ, and while this government now claims that they do more to “help” beneficiaries back into work, most of the extra money has gone into extra staff at WINZ offices that are used for more “intensive” case management, which for many will mean, more “pressurising”, and more referring of persons – to either go and find any “suitable” work, which may be “hypothetical” jobs, based on their “designated doctors’” and Dr Bratt’s bizarre new interpretation of what persons “can” and should do, or to do some low level training (e.g. learn to write CVs and “job search skills”).

      Sorry, but as I was denied from “editing” my comment, I have to resort to this, to repeat that long chapter/sentence, in a corrected form.

    • Naturesong 5.2

      Yes, there is a problem within ACC.
      My mother, after receiving a head injury due to a serious fall was given minimal support and told to return to work within a couple of weeks. Something she was clearly unable to do; we were still driving her around and helping with basic tasks at that stage.
      It wasn’t until she mentioned the lack of support during a checkup, which then prompted the surgeon to call ACC and tear them a new one, that she received the amount of support needed to help her recover properly.

      I strongly suspect that had she been forced back to work at the time ACC wanted her to return, she would have lost her job due to her inability to perfom any complex cognitive tasks.

      Although she was able to return to work after 4 months, her surgeon did not consider her fully recovered until almost two and a half years had passed.

      This study is a welcome recognition that with proper support, people stand a better chance of recovering and leading productive lives.

  6. jerry Ross 6

    I am an ACC recipient from failed back surgery after an accident at work and the only way that I could stay on ACC was to employ a lawyer who pointed out all the illegal practices that they had been engaging in to try and remove me from their books. They had me go to doctors who straight out lied in their reports about me, to trying to get me to sign documents that were illegal and not in the ACC act. They fail to inform you about your full rights and miss-inform you whenever possible.This might be to do with their key performance indicators which amount to a bonus to kick people off but not called a bonus because that does not sound good. Thank god I had the money and knowledge to go to a lawyer when I needed to. For a lot of people it is to late and they are literally tricked out of their due compensation. We all pay into it and expect it to be there when it is needed but I never thought that I needed a lawyer to get it.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Thanks for relating your difficult experiences. It’s a big problem. Denying people what they are due under our social security net seems to be a professional past time for some. Got to change.

      • AsleeWhilWalkin 6.1.1

        Nobody should be battered between ACC and Work and Income. One is a compulsory insurance scheme set up to rehabilitate people, the other is safety net legislation.

        While both are designed to help and support it has been clear for some time that profit based models have undermined the original objectives. Surely injured deserve rehabilitation no matter what.

    • Tracey 6.2

      the thing is, it is not unusual, insurance companies do this, for the default position to be “NO” and then see who will bother fighting. people who are injured generally have less fight in them and less money. Councils do this in leaky home claims too. So people get screwed twice.

      the sad thing is the so-called “savings” are funding warner bros, rio tinto, SFO foreign investors and so on… ACC is VERY financially healthy. This government is robbing ACC to pay its pals, by screwing the contributors.

  7. Rosemary McDonald 7

    Joint ACC and Health
    Spinal Cord Impairment Initiative & Implementation Plan
    Situation Analysis Paper
    24th February 2013

    This document is part of the government’s own research into the differences between ACC and MOH for those living with a permanent spinal cord impairment.

    The final section has a chart which compares both systems across a wide range of available treatment, rehabilitation, equipment, supplies to manage bowel and bladder dysfunction, home modifications, transport and vehicle funding, in home care etc. etc.

    ACC spinal cord impaired are significantly better supported than their lesser entitled MOH cousins, and the document states quite clearly that by international standards ACC is not over resourcing it’s clients,

    Enquiries to the MoH as to when (or if ) they intend to address these inequities…now they have empirical evidence that the inequities exist, has been met with the response that “this is a forward thinking project.”

    Small comfort to those having to manage a significant spinal cord impairment in the rather hostile and unsympathetic MoH environment.

    Offers no hope to those who sustained spinal cord injuries before ACC came in in 1974. Many of these people did return to fulltime work, They bought their own homes, saved for their retirement and are now facing financial hardship having to self fund supports that are not funded by MoH, but are considered necessary by ACC.

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