Sunday, September 13, 2009

Indiana Court of Appeals rules that employer must pay for obese employees gastric bypass surgery to ensure success of back surgery for work injury

Indianapolis, IN
Experts say a court decision today in Indiana could make employers think twice before hiring workers who have health conditions that might prove costly down the road.

An appeals court ruled that a pizza shop has to pay for weight-loss surgery for a 340-pound employee. The surgery will ensure the success of another operation for a back injury that he suffered at work.

The ruling raises concerns among businesses bracing for similar claims.

The pizza shop had agreed to pay for the back surgery, but said it wasn't obligated to pay for the weight loss operation because the man was already obese before he was hurt.

The court found that the surgery was covered because the man's weight and the accident had combined to create a single injury.

There was a similar ruling recently in Oregon, where the state's Supreme Court ruled that the state workers' compensation insurance has to pay for gastric bypass surgery to ensure that a man's knee replacement surgery is effective.

The head of a consulting firm that helps businesses manage workers compensation says the Indiana case "draws a line in the sand" -- because it's based on principles used in several states.

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