From the April/May 2012 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

Workers Comp Worries

Companies can take a proactive approach to containing workers compensation costs, as well as push for changes in state regulations.

When it comes to corporate insurance coverage, one persistent sore spot is workers compensation. Fifty-nine percent of employers say they’re very or somewhat worried about the cost of workers compensation insurance, according to a recent survey by financial software provider Zywave. Joyce Long, global practice leader for Marsh Risk Consulting’s workforce strategies group, says companies’ efforts should start during the hiring process with a good description of the job they’re filling, including physical requirements.

Once the hiring is accomplished, Long emphasizes the importance of training new employees: “You have to provide them with the safety rules and training for the job they’re going to be performing and the work area they’re going to be in.”

Richard Victor, executive director of the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) in Cambridge, Mass., points to another approach to containing costs: pushing for changes in state regulations. “Workers compensation is a creature of state laws, and the laws and regulations have a large effect on costs,” he says.

Maximum medical prices are set by state regulation, and there are big variations from state to state, Victor explains. “In Florida, surgeons are paid about 40% over what they get from Medicare in Florida,” he says. “In Illinois, they get six times the Medicare rates.”

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