The North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) board of directors has authorized a premium increase for workers’ compensation coverage beginning July 1, 2004, according to a WSI statement. The rate increase is a result of the continued growth in medical and prescription drug costs for workers’ compensation claims.
The board approved a motion to increase statewide premium rates by 6 percent beginning July 1, 2004. Swing limits will be set at 5 percent, meaning rate increases for all 141 employer classes will range from 1 to 11 percent, based on the loss history for each rate class. For those accounts with a positive balance over the last three years, an additional 5 percent performance dividend will be applied. Minimum premium accounts and accounts with losses greater than their premiums paid, will not receive the performance dividend. The total amount of the performance dividend will be approximately $5 million.
Even with this rate hike, North Dakota employers will still be paying the lowest premiums in the country and will remain in the top-20 of benefits paid to injured workers according to separate national studies on rates and benefits, WSI said.
Medical costs account for more than 50 percent of the benefits paid to injured workers. The average cost for a wage-loss claim at WSI has risen approximately 33 percent since 1999, climbing to about $40,000 last year. Prescription drug costs have doubled to $5.4 million over the last four years.
WSI said it is working to control or reduce these medical costs in the future through cost containment programs such as: a pharmacy benefit manager, utilization reviews, appropriate fee schedules, and instituting direct and routine input from the medical community on ways to control costs. It also said it is cracking down on fraud.
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