The Workers Compensation Research Institute, based in Cambridge Massachusetts, reports that a new study shows that workers’ compensation claims costs rose by as much as 10.5 percent from 1997 to 1998, based on experience through mid-1999.
Claims costs grew by less than one percent annually from 1994 to 1997, but the growing duration of disabilities and rising medical costs per claim have led to a rapid rise. 29 percent of the workers injured in Massachusetts remain off the job for more than seven days, compared to 22 percent for the eight states included in the study.
The WCRI also examined workers’ compensation benefits in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin, and compared its findings with those in Massachusetts. It showed that the State’s indemnity payments – wager replacement payments for lost-time injuries – are among the highest in the study for all paid claims. Workers with more than seven days of lost time receive benefits for an average of 12 weeks in Massachusetts.
Dr. Richard Vector, WCRI’s Executive Director, warned that the situation was cause for concern; “in particular, the high percentage of injured workers in Massachusetts with disability duration of more than seven days bears watching.”
There was some good news in the study as well. Medical payments in Massachusetts were found to be the lowest of the states studied, averaging around $3,000 for claims of more than seven days of lost time, 61 percent lower than medical payments in Texas, which had the highest medical payments of the states included in the study.
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