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Industry Insights

Paduda: The State of Workers' Comp

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The National Academy of Social Insurance has just released its latest report on workers’ compensation. This is required reading for any serious student of work comp; it’s stuffed with insights just waiting for you.

Joe Paduda

Joe Paduda

Here are a few. Note: COVID’s impact on 2020 results is significant, especially regarding medical costs and the relation of medical to other work comp financial metrics.

  • From 2016-2020, medical benefits paid (per $100 of covered wages) dropped by almost 25%.
  • This followed a 17-point drop over the previous five years.
  • The massive decline is (likely) due primarily to lower claim frequency.
  • Medical costs:
    • Totaled $27.7 billion in 2020, $2.5 billion less than in 2019.
    • Accounted for 53% of benefits in 2020, down from 56% in 2019.
    • Are a reminder to those who predicted massive increases in medical costs due to COVID. A much deeper understanding of health care delivery, cost drivers and sources of cost data would be quite helpful.
  • The California Workers' Compensation Institute's analysis indicated that the Golden State accounted for a fifth of all benefits paid (bulletin available at no cost to CWCI members).
  • Overall, employers’ work comp payroll-adjusted costs dropped almost 9% from 2019 to 2020.

The NASI report can be downloaded for free.

Joseph Paduda is co-owner of CompPharma, a consulting firm focused on improving pharmacy programs in workers’ compensation. This column is republished with his permission from his Managed Care Matters blog.

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