We now have a substantial new body of research released in August of 2011 from John Burton’s “Workers Compensation Resources Research Report”, that supports the conclusions I made in my previous blog regarding Ohio’s indemnity comparisons to the rest of the country. John Burton’s report provided 23 years of research on cash benefits, medical benefits, and total (cash plus medical) benefits per 100,000 workers for up to 47 jurisdictions. This research excluded the four (4) state-funded workers compensation monopolies (such as Ohio). Nevertheless, we can contrast Ohio’s actual data on these issues with John Burton’s research report to analyze the cost effectiveness of Ohio’s system versus all other workers compensation programs across the country.
The first step was to obtain information that would accurately reflect the 100,000 workers base pool used in the Burton Study. Subsequently, I contacted Tina Kielmeyer, Ohio BWC’s Chief of Customer Services, to ask her about the Bureau’s statistics for how many employees work for state funded employers in Ohio. Tina advised me that on average (over the past decade), Ohio has had 5.4 million employees covered by Ohio’s workers compensation system. From this amount, 1/3 or 1.8 million work for self-insured employers. Thus, on average during the past decade there have been 3.6 million employees that have worked for state fund employers in our workers compensation system.
To confirm this she sent me to an independent source that confirmed that in the year of 2011 Ohio has been averaging almost 5.4 million employed workers. Therefore, I find these figures to be accurate and believable, and we will base the following information on those numbers. To consider these statistics, we should also approach it from the context that Ohio is both one of the seven largest states in covered employees and total workers compensation benefits paid, and Ohio is the sixth largest workers compensation insurance entity (when compared with all workers compensation insurance entities including private insurers). Nevertheless, during the last decade Ohio has ranked not higher than 18th in cash benefits paid per 100,000 workers, 38th in medical benefits paid per 100,000 workers, and 29th in total benefits paid per 100,000 workers among 48 jurisdictions compared.
According to Burton’s research report, this would place Ohio in the “Average” portion among all the jurisdictions in the national study. As noted above since Ohio is one of the 7 largest states in covered employees and total workers compensation benefits being paid, this clearly shows that our statutory benefits are not in need of reform. Thus, Ohio appears to be doing an exceptional job of controlling workers compensation costs for both indemnity and benefit payments. In a future blog, I will discuss however what steps Ohio can take in reducing these costs further by assisting injured workers in returning to work.