WCRI: Georgia Workers Comp Indemnity Benefits Key Cost Contributor

Indemnity benefits per claim with more than seven days of lost time in Georgia were among the highest of the 17 study states and the main contributor to the higher total costs per claim in the state, according to a recent study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI).

The study, CompScope Benchmarks for Georgia, 15th Edition, found higher indemnity costs per claim with more than seven days of lost time were the result of longer duration of temporary disability (TD) benefits and more frequent lump-sum settlements with larger settlement amounts in the state.

The higher indemnity costs were moderated by the weekly temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. One in four workers was capped at the statutory maximum in 2013, compared with one in ten in the median of the study states. This was a result of the lower statutory maximum weekly benefit in the state, which increased on July 1, 2013 as part of the workers’ compensation reform bill, House Bill (H.B.) 154. The full effects of these reforms will be observed in future studies.

“This is the first year WCRI included Georgia in its annual CompScope studies,” said Ramona Tanabe, WCRI’s executive vice president and counsel. “Future editions will monitor the changes in Georgia’s workers’ compensation environment, such as the impact of H.B. 154 which took effect in July 2013, and the hospital outpatient and ambulatory surgical center (ASC) fee schedule change effective in May 2014.”

This study also found medical benefits per claim in Georgia were typical of the 17 study states, and remained fairly stable from 2008 to 2013. Defense attorneys in Georgia were involved more often than in the typical state and the average payment per claim was among the highest of the study states.

The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is an independent, not-for-profit research organization based in Cambridge, Mass.

Source: Workers Compensation Research Institute