‘Darker Possibility’ For Workers When Employers Opt Out of Workers’ Comp

Details

Publish Date:
May 18, 2016
Author(s):
  • Berkes, Howard
Source:
National Public Radio (NPR)
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Summary

Injured workers face “inherent conflict of interest,” barriers to benefits, “unequal treatment,” limited appeals and little to no independent oversight when employers opt out of state-regulated workers’ compensation, according to a new study.

The report from the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions is the first independent assessment of an emerging “opt out” alternative to workers’ comp since NPR and ProPublica began reporting on the phenomenon last year.

Bill Minick of Dallas-based PartnerSource, who writes and administers opt-out plans and helped write the Oklahoma law, disputes some of the study’s conclusions and says evaluations conducted by actuarial firms, insurance companies and others tell a different story. He pointed to a March study by Stanford University law professor Alison Morantz, which looked at a sampling of large Texas companies and found that bypassing the state workers’ comp system reduced worker injury costs by 44 percent.

Morantz said her study did not measure whether workers were better off under the plans or whether the cost savings came at their expense. “Some employees clearly fare worse,” Morantz wrote.

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