Salem, OR – The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) recently released the 2014 edition of its Report on the Oregon Workers’ Compensation System.
The report describes Oregon’s workers’ compensation system and documents the effects of the Legislature’s more recent legislative changes. It also updates the previous report released in September 2012, adding statutory changes adopted during the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions, summaries of recent court decisions, and the latest available data.
Numerous commentators have singled out Oregon’s system as a national model of labor-management cooperation, leading to innovative programs that produce desirable outcomes for workers and affordable costs for employers.
As measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employer survey, the Oregon total-cases incidence rate was 4.1 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2013 – a 63 percent drop from the 1988 rate. The safety and health chapter contains more safety data and discussion of the ways Oregon OSHA helps keep claims rates low.
The medical chapter includes a discussion of research studies about the role of various care providers in the workers’ compensation system. A number of new medical fee schedules are aimed at holding costs down and simplifying the way costs are determined. Fee schedules now cover ambulatory surgery centers; durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies; and interpreter services.
As discussed in the return-to-work chapter, Oregon has innovative and effective return-to-work programs. Injured workers who complete vocational assistance plans, use preferred worker benefits, or use the Employer-at-Injury Program have higher post-injury employment rates and wages than similar workers who do not use these programs. Return-to-work programs are currently used at a higher rate, 23 percent of accepted disabling claims, than in any previously studied period.
Finally, as discussed in the insurance chapter, Oregon has one of the nation’s least expensive workers’ compensation systems. The Department of Consumer and Business Services conducts a study every two years comparing the premium rates for its major industries to the premium rates in other states. Based on this methodology, Oregon’s rates in 2014 were 26 percent below the national median, and ranked 43rd out of 51 jurisdictions. This means Oregon’s premium rates are the ninth lowest in the nation.
Because of the system’s successes, such as declining injury rates and workers getting back to work earlier, cumulative rate decreases have lowered workers’ compensation pure premium rates by more than 66 percent since 1990. The 2015 pure premium rate is about 34 percent of the 1990 rate.
The report is available here: OR DCBS: 2014 Report on Oregon Workers’ Compensation System (PDF)
Source: OR DCBS