For Immediate Release | November 7, 2019
Meghan Griffin at 202-243-7286
Legislative changes, along with worker safety initiatives and exceptions to mandatory coverage, help explain noteworthy trends in workers’ compensation benefits, costs, and coverage in four states. According the National Academy of Social Insurance (Academy), state legislative and judicial decisions have resulted in the reduction of workers’ benefits in Florida, Ohio, and Wyoming and an increase in benefits in Missouri.
“To the extent that costs and benefits have fallen because of improved safety at work, that is, of course, good news. However, there is also evidence that suggests that many injured workers are not receiving the cash benefits and/or medical care they need, and that some states are achieving lower benefits by shifting costs rather than improving safety. We hope policymakers, reporters, researchers, and others continue to delve into these issues and advance policies that help workers and employers achieve a balance that improves outcomes for both,” noted Les Boden, Chair of the Academy Study Panel on Workers’ Compensation Data and co-author of the Academy’s annual report on workers’ compensation.
The State Spotlights were produced alongside the Academy’s annual report, Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Costs, and Coverage (2017 Data), which provides the only comprehensive data on workers’ compensation benefits, coverage, and employer costs for the nation, the states, the District of Columbia, and federal programs. The report, state spotlights and an Executive Summary are all available for public download.
- Florida: A primary objective of 2003 legal changes proposed by then Gov. Jeb Bush was to improve the business climate for the workers’ compensation insurance industry. The resulting legislation, however, also led to sharp reductions in employee benefits.
- Ohio: In 2006, the state passed a series of major legislative changes intended to lower employer costs. These, along with measures to improve workplace safety, have had the effect of reducing benefits for ill and injured workers.
- Wyoming: Wyoming was the only state to see a decrease in covered wages between 2013 and 2017, with all other states seeing modest-to-substantial increases. Unusual exemptions that allow several large employers to operate outside the state system are likely not responsible for that trend, but seem to curtail injured workers’ benefits.
- Missouri: Legal changes in 2005 brought about a decline in benefits in Missouri, which led to a backlog for payments owed. Mounting evidence of resulting financial harm and instability in the labor market resulted in 2013 changes that increased employer payments to a key fund and enabled the backlog to begin to be paid out.
Experts to contact:
National Academy of Social Insurance
Boston University School of Public Health
Since its founding in 1986, the National Academy of Social Insurance has provided rigorous inquiry and insights into the functioning of our nation’s social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. Comprised of over 1,000 of the nation’s top experts in social insurance and related policies and programs, the Academy studies how social insurance can continue to meet the changing needs of American families, employees, and employers, including new frontiers for social insurance. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please visit www.nasi.org, or follow @socialinsurance on Twitter.