July 12, Wisconsin Health News
Workers’ compensation premiums for businesses are set to decline by 6.03 percent this October, according to a statement from the Department of Workforce Development.
That could result in an estimated $134 million in annual savings for businesses, the Tuesday statement noted. It’s the third year that workers’ compensation rates have declined, following an 8.46 percent decrease last year and a 3.19 percent decline in 2016.
“A safe workplace results in a more productive and profitable one for employers,” Ted Nickel, insurance commissioner, said in a statement. "Employers are recognizing the relation between their employees' safety and the savings that ensue as premiums continue to decline."
Mark Grapentine, senior vice president of government relations for the Wisconsin Medical Society, said the report shows that “good news keeps coming” for the state’s workers’ compensation program.
“We’re already a national model, with faster return to work, fantastic patient satisfaction and ready access to the highest-quality healthcare in the nation – all at a cost per claim that is below the national average,” he wrote in an email. “Another significant insurance rate reduction is just more evidence that Wisconsin’s system is win-win for both businesses and their employees.”
Grapentine added that there’s room for improvement, pointing to a need for the state’s on-the-job injury rate drop below the national average. He added that healthcare providers are “always striving to find better ways to improve care.”
Chris Reader, director of health and human resources policy, also lauded the announcement. He said the reduction follows a national trend as employers and workers have invested in and focused on safety. But he noted that costs for medical treatment for workplace injuries are on the rise.
“Had Wisconsin enacted a medical fee schedule like almost every other state, medical costs also would have been kept in check and the insurance reduction today would have been even greater," he wrote in an email.
Reader also argued that the rate reduction doesn’t mean much to fully-insured employers who don’t pay insurance costs and are left footing “incredibly high medical bills.”
Proposals to establish a fee schedule haven't gained traction with lawmakers.