Are lower workers’ compensation costs actually a good sign?

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2015 | Workers' Compensation |

Statistics show that government efforts to stem the rising tide of workers’ compensation payments in Illinois is having some effect, with payments in the state falling below some neighboring states. Workers’ compensation had been a major deciding factor in budget talks in Springfield, according to official reports. The governor has been striving to reduce the costs of workers’ compensation for business owners, among other cost-saving measures. Democratic opponents say that the changes may not be entirely beneficial to workers, however.

Since the policy change in 2011, medical payments associated with workers’ compensation have dropped by about 15 percent. That policy change involved passing a law that slashed workers’ compensation fees by about one-third. Now, Illinois workers only spend about $14,000 per claim, a reducing from $17,000 per claim in the 2010 – 2011 period. This $14,000 mark is significantly lower than neighboring Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana, all of which have average claim values higher than $16,000.

Despite these steps, politicians are still concerned about the fact that Illinois has some of the highest rates for workers’ compensation insurance in the nation. Illinois had been the third-highest in 2010 — and has since fallen to the seventh-highest — but officials say that the change is not enough to promote new manufacturing jobs. Politicians insist that additional reforms are needed to promote new manufacturing jobs in the state.

Lower workers’ compensation insurance rates for businesses are great, but what does that mean for workers? Workers’ compensation reform would mean a narrower definition of “workplace injury,” which could leave some employees without the financial resources they need to pay for their work-related medical expenses. Victims should not have to wade through red tape to get their workers’ compensation benefits. Although the reforms may be beneficial for Illinois business, they could harm Illinois workers.

Source: Crain’s Chicago Business, “Illinois workers’ comp costs fall below Indiana, Wisconsin,” Thomas A. Corfman, Oct. 27, 2015

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