Fueled by solid and continual investment growth, the Ohio’s Workers’ Compensation Oversight Commission voted Thursday to grant Ohio’s private employers a one-time 20 percent premium dividend on their upcoming bills. The decision was based on a recommendation from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).
“Today’s decision is another example of why Ohio is a great place to do business,” Governor Bob Taft said. “This one-time, 20 percent dividend will enable companies to reinvest this savings by expanding their business, create new jobs for Ohioans, and ultimately help to make Ohio’s economy thrive.”
The 20 percent dividend means a savings of more than $170 million for private employers for the second half of 2004. Private employers, mostly small- and medium-sized businesses, receive two annual invoices in January and July. The possibility of a dividend for the January billing will be determined in November.
BWC reportedly enjoyed a 15.7 percent return on its investments in 2003 and are outpacing benchmarks thus far in 2004, generating a sizeable surplus to fund the dividend. No injured worker benefits were affected by this decision; BWC remains fully-funded.
James Conrad, administrator and CEO of BWC, said the economic benefits of this decision are twofold.
“While this decision will directly pump $170 million back into Ohio’s economy,” Conrad said, “BWC is also able to keep jobs, tax money and discretionary spending in-state by using an investment policy that has goals of doing business with Ohio-qualified managers and brokers. This policy, which is supported by Governor Taft, is a big reason why the Bureau has outpaced 86 percent of public funds over the past nine years.”
The Oversight Commission also concurred with BWC’s recommendation to raise private employer premiums an average of two percent. The increase is below the national average.
“Though we’re never pleased to increase premium rates,” Conrad added. “I am encouraged that the measures BWC has put into place to have taken root and effectively slowed healthcare costs. I remain hopeful that continued progress will be made to reduce the burden healthcare costs place on Ohio’s workers’ compensation system.”
Since 1995, rates remain 31 percent lower on average for private employers.
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