Oregon workers’ compensation insurance claims rates in 2009 were at the lowest they’ve ever been, at less than 42 percent of the 1989 rate, according to a recently released report by the state’s Department of Consumer and Business Services, Insurance Division.The incidence rate was 4.4 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2009, the year in which the most recent data is available. In 1988, the total case rate was 11.1 cases per 100 workers.
The report, the 10th in a series that describes Oregon’s workers’ compensation system and shows the effects of legislative changes since 1987, notes that the state’s workers’ comp system has served as a national model of labor-management cooperation, “leading to innovative programs that produce desirable outcomes for workers and affordable costs for employers.”
In 2009, the state recorded 18,948 accepted disabling claims. The accepted disabling claims rate, which DCBS said reflects both claims frequency and compensability standards, was 1.2 accepted disabling claims per 100 workers in 2009, 31 percent of the 1988 value.
The report notes that the state supports innovative and effective return-to-work programs, noting that injured workers who complete vocational assistance plans, use preferred worker benefits or use the Employer-at-Injury Program have higher post-injury employment rates and wages than similar workers who do not use those programs.
The 2009 legislature passed bills that affected return-to-work programs, including bills that:
- allow insurers and self-insured employers to forgo a vocational evaluation if the workers is released for regular work but has not returned to work;
- allow insrers and self-insured employers to voluntarily extend payment of disability compensation to 21 months for workers in vocational training;
- clarify the duration of insurance premium and premium assessment exemption for preferred workers; modify the vocational assistance dispute resolution process; and
- replace certification wiht a registry of vocational assistance provider organizations.
The report noted that Oregon has one of the nation’s least expensive systems in the nation.DCBS approved overall pure premium rate reductions of 1.3 percent for 2010, and 1.8 percent for 2011. Total written premiums in the system totaled $767 milion for 2009, down 19 percent from 2008.
To view the full report, visit www.cbs.state.or.us/imd/rasums/2362/10web/10_2362.pdf.
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