Oklahoma City, OK – Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak says it’s time for the Legislature to address Oklahoma’s biggest economic issue: workers’ compensation reform.
“Workers’ compensation costs are spiraling out of control,” said Doak. “Oklahoma has some of the highest costs in the country and businesses have had enough. We’ve had several large employers tell us that if workers’ comp isn’t aggressively addressed in the next legislative session, they may have no choice but to leave the state. We can’t ignore this important issue that’s putting Oklahoma’s economy in jeopardy.”
Doak made the comments after approving a loss cost filing by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). The filing reflects a 0.4 percent increase in the loss costs used by many carriers to determine workers’ compensation insurance rates. The new loss cost data will be effective Jan. 1, 2013.|
“This is a critical issue for Oklahoma’s future,” said Doak. “Our workers’ comp system has some businesses reevaluating whether to come to or even stay in Oklahoma. Others have already left the state. We need meaningful reform, not window dressing.”
According to recent data from NCCI, Oklahoma’s permanent partial indemnity costs are higher than both the regional and national averages.
Oklahoma’s average cost for permanent partial indemnity is $47,000 per case, almost double the regional average. Indemnity benefits also constitute the majority of total benefit costs in Oklahoma. It makes up 55 percent of total benefit costs, compared to 39 percent regionally and 42 percent nationally.
“We need to create a better environment for both workers and businesses,” said Doak.
Commissioner Doak is leading the way in the push for reform. Department executives have spoken with lawmakers, industry executives, employees and businesses about possible measures that may be introduced in the next legislative session. The department also hosted a State Advisory Forum on Workers’ Compensation in Tulsa Thursday. It followed a similar event Wednesday in Oklahoma City. The forums were designed to provide a greater understanding of both national and state workers’ compensation issues.
“The forum offered critical information for lawmakers, insurance producers and business owners,” said Doak.
The OID is also hosting workers’ compensation forums in every county. During the public meetings, Deputy Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation Denise Engle addresses concerns, collects feedback and discusses possible solutions. A list of scheduled events can be found by clicking on the calendar at www.oid.ok.gov.