Report Backed by Insurance Industry Skews North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Data Says North Carolina Advocates for Justice

“WCRI’s report is an unfortunate example of insurance companies and corporations seeking government subsidies by shifting their expenses to taxpayers. WCRI is funded by insurance companies and big corporations, and routinely issues reports that support ‘reforms’ that will increase their contributors’ profits.”

The above quote is from North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ) CEO Dick Taylor on a recent study by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute. The report in question claims that the average payment per claim for injured workers in North Carolina is higher than in 15 other major states, but the NCJA reminds us that numbers can be skewed.

According to the NCAJ that number is misleading for one simple reason: “In North Carolina, unlike other states, workers’ compensation doesn’t cover many injuries sustained in the normal work routine.  North Carolina has fewer claims, and they are for more severe injuries. Naturally, North Carolina’s average payment per claim is higher.”

So what is a fair measurement of how North Carolina workers’ compensation stacks up with the rest of the country? Simple, says the NCAJ, Are employers’ costs for workers’ compensation insurance out of line with other states?

A study by the highly regarded Oregon State Department of Consumer and Business Services says North Carolina is right in the middle of the pack, 23rd to be exact, when it comes to average cost to employers of workers’ compensation insurance.

To drive home the point even more, the NCAJ notes that North Carolina does better than eight (California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin) of the 16 states that were studied in the WCRI report. In short, North Carolina delivers good benefits to injured workers, at low cost to employers.

“Right now, corporations and insurance companies are lobbying the NC General Assembly to cut benefits to injured workers,” says the NCAJ press release. “Under their proposal, even if a worker is injured on the job and continues to be totally disabled, his or her workers’ compensation will end after 500 weeks.”

So after those 500 weeks, what happens? “Most disabled workers will end up on Social Security, SSI Disability, Medicare, Medicaid or Food Stamps. And the costs insurance companies have been paying – for injured workers’ medical care and lost wages – will be shifted onto taxpayers.”

Enough with the reports. What do the people think about this? In October 2010, Public Policy Polling asked registered voters if they favored cutting off benefits to disabled workers after 500 weeks. The idea was opposed by Liberals (78%), Moderates (67%) and Conservatives (60%); and by Democrats (72%), Republicans (62%) and Independents (56%).

For more information, view this PDF from the NCAJ.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.

* Photo courtesy of gregory via Flickr Creative Commons.

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