Non-federal employers pay for workers’ compensation by purchasing insurance from a private insurance carrier, a state workers’ compensation insurance plan (called a state fund), or by self-insuring.  Federal workers’ compensation insurance covers federal civilian employees and some private sector workers employed in high-risk jobs or jobs related to national defense.  Many states also have special workers’ compensation funds to cover exceptional circumstances, such as a second work-related injury.   

Private insurance carriers remained the largest source of workers’ compensation benefits in 2015, accounting for slightly more than half (55%) of all benefits paid. Private carriers currently are allowed to sell workers’ compensation insurance in all but four states that have exclusive state funds—Ohio, North Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming. The share of benefits paid by private carriers has varied between 47.7 and 62.6 percent since 1960.

Self-insured employers are the second largest source of workers’ compensation benefits, accounting for approximately one-fourth (24.5%) of all benefits paid in 2015.  The share of benefits accounted for by self-insured employers has varied between 11.6 and 26.7 percent since 1960.

State funds accounted for 14.6 percent of workers’ compensation benefits in 2015. The share of benefits paid by state funds has varied from 12.5 percent to 20.7 percent since 1960.

Federal funds accounted for 6.0 percent of all workers’ compensation payments in 2015. Payments of workers’ compensation benefits by federal funds have varied between 4.1 and 25.0 percent of all benefit payments since 1960.

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