California Workers' Compensation Payments Grew Faster than the U.S. Average in 2003

California Spending for Medical Treatment Outpaced Wage Replacement Benefits for Injured Workers

For Immediate Release: July 21, 2005
Contact: Jill Braunstein at (202) 452-8097

To download the full report, click here.

WASHINGTON, DC – In California, total workers' compensation payments for injured workers' cash benefits and medical care rose by 9.6 percent to $13.0 billion in 2003, according to a report released today by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI). For the nation as a whole, spending rose by 3.2 percent to $54.9 billion in 2003, the latest year for which national data are available. These data do not yet reflect changes in the California workers' compensation program since 2003.

Over the five years ending in 2003, California spending for medical care for injured workers grew more rapidly than cash benefits to replace lost wages. Figure 1 shows the trend in workers' compensation spending per $100 of aggregate payroll for California workers between 1999 and 2003. Payments for workers' compensation medical treatment rose from 66 cents to $1.07 per $100 of payroll (an increase of 41 cents), while cash benefits to compensate California workers' lost wages rose from 82 cents to $1.04 per $100 of payroll (a 22-cent increase) over the five-year period.

For the nation as a whole, workers' compensation payments for medical treatment outpaced payments for cash benefits to injured workers. Between 1999 and 2003, national spending for workers' compensation medical care rose from 46 cents to 54 cents per $100 of aggregate payroll, while payments for cash benefits fell slightly from 64 to 62 cents per $100 of aggregate payroll for U.S. workers (Figure 2).

The report, Workers' Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs, 2003, is the eighth in a NASI series that provides the only comprehensive national data on this largely state-run program. The study provides estimates of workers' compensation payments – cash and medical – for each state, the District of Columbia, and the federal programs providing workers' compensation benefits.

NOTE TO REPORTERS AND EDITORS: The full report and state-specific information are available from the Academy's website at For a free copy of the printed report, contact Jill Braunstein at (202) 452-8097 or by e-mail at


Ishita Sengupta

National Academy of Social Insurance
(202) 452-8097

Virginia Reno
National Academy of Social Insurance
(202) 452-8097

John F. Burton Jr.
Study Panel Chair
Rutgers University
(732) 274-0600

Robert E. McGarrah, Jr.
worker perspective
(202) 637-5335
(202) 431-9838 cell

Donald Elisburg
worker perspective
Donald Elisburg Law Office
(301) 299-2950
Eric J. Oxfeld
employer perspective
UWC – Strategic Services on Unemployment and Workers' Compensation
(202) 637-3463

Robert Steggert
employer perspective
Marriott International, Inc.

Barry Llewellyn
National Council of Compensation Insurance
(201) 386-2627

Eric Nordman
National Association of Insurance Commissioners
(816) 783-8005

Christine Baker
Commission on Health, Safety, and Workers' Compensation
(510) 622-3959

Tom Rankin
Past President, California Labor Federation
(510) 499-8284

Fred Kilbourne
The Kilbourne Company
(858) 793-1300, ext. 202

The National Academy of Social Insurance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization made up of the nation's leading experts on social insurance. Its mission is to promote understanding and informed policymaking on social insurance and related programs through research, public education, training, and the open exchange of ideas.

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