Workers’ compensation insurance rates to fall in 2016

Staff Report

BATON ROUGE – Workers’ compensation insurance rates for Louisiana employers will likely be lowered by 2.7 percent from current rates on May 1, 2016, based on the recommendation of the National Council on Compensation Insurance. A cut of that magnitude would result in a drop in the overall average of Louisiana employers’ workers’ compensation insurance rates of 19.2 percent since 2008.

“The major drivers of the recommended rate decrease are the improved safety record of Louisiana employers and the implementation of medical treatment guidelines by the Louisiana  Workforce Commission in 2011,” said Curt Eysink, executive director of the LWC. “Also in 2011, the LWC instituted a new method of resolving disputes over medical care for injured workers, which has led to a reduction of about one-third of the number of workers’ compensation court cases.”

Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon announced the proposed rate cut this week. His approval would make 2016 the third consecutive year of premium rate reductions in Louisiana. In comparison to the nearly 20 percent reduction in the average of Louisiana workers’ compensation insurance rates through next year, the national average increased by 4 percent from 2008 to 2015.

“The ongoing trend of premium reductions reflects multiple factors,” said Patrick Robinson, director of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration. “It rewards the cooperation among our stakeholders in adopting medical treatment guidelines designed to provide better, faster treatment for injured workers to speed up their recovery and return to work. It also recognizes the ongoing effort of Louisiana employers and employees to maintain safe workplaces and avoid workplace injuries.”

Louisiana workplaces ranked second-safest in the nation in the most recent survey data available, behind only Washington, D.C., for the rate of non-fatal injuries and illnesses.

Earlier this year, a study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute indicated that while medical costs continued to increase in most surveyed states, medical costs per claim in Louisiana actually declined since implementation of the treatment guidelines in 2011. They had annual increases of over 5 percent in prior years.

“The performance and cost of workers’ compensation in Louisiana have steadily improved since 2008 as we have refocused it into a true support system for injured workers to get back on the job quickly,” Eysink said. “Today, better health care is delivered sooner, injured workers are taken care of equitably and business and industry can spend more of their time, money and attention on operating and growing their businesses rather than on unproductive fights in court.”