Declining workplace injuries and fewer claims for workers’ compensation benefits are leading to lower costs for employers, Texas Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation Rod Bordelon told lawmakers in testimony before the House Business & Industry Committee.
Bordelon explained workers’ compensation insurance carriers are able to lower premiums charged to employers when claims are on the decline. He also told committee members the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), a part of the Texas Department of Insurance, has reduced a maintenance tax on insurers which pays for DWC operations.
“Because the Texas workers’ compensation system is voluntary, I think that it is incumbent on me as Commissioner to make sure that it operates as efficiently as possible,” he said. “Since the system reforms passed in 2005, there has been tremendous improvement in everything from medical costs to the lower number of claims disputes we are seeing.”
Texas is the only state that does not require employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage, although lawmakers in Oklahoma recently approved a system that allows employers to “opt out” in some cases.
More than two thirds of Texas employers participate in the workers’ compensation system, representing 8 out of 10 employees working in the state.
The Commissioner detailed recent trends in the system, including:
Decline in workplace injury rates since 2004 (27% decline)
Decline in workers’ compensation claims filed since 2004 (22% decline)
Decrease in workers’ compensation insurance rates (50% decline from 2003 through 2011)
Decline in medical costs (from among highest in 2001 Workers’ Compensation Research Institute study to 23 % below study median in 2011)
Improvements in number employees returning to work, and decline in days off work for those employees.