Austin, TX – The TDI-DWC recently released a pair of biennial reports to the Texas Legislature, the first of which examines the impact of the 2005 House Bill (HB) 7 reforms on the affordability and availability of workers’ compensation insurance for Texas employers and the impact of certified workers’ compensation health care networks on return-to-work outcomes, medical costs, access and utilization of health care, injured employee satisfaction, health-related outcomes, complaints, and medical dispute resolution.
Some of the key findings from this analysis of the HB 7 reforms include:
- Workers’ compensation insurance has been profitable each year since 2004, as measured by the industry’s combined ratios and return on net worth.
- Since 2003, rates decreased nearly 64 percent through 2017.
- The number of employers participating in networks and employees treated by networks has increased; about 50 percent of new claims are treated in networks, compared to 20 percent in 2010.
- As of 2017, there were 29 active certified networks covering all 254 counties.
- A 2018 survey of 3,200 injured employees (administered by Texas A&M University and analyzed by the Workers’ Compensation Research and Evaluation Group) show that 60 percent of injured employees reported no problem in getting the medical care they felt they needed for their work-related injury, compared with 52 percent of injured employees surveyed in 2005.
- Total medical costs for professional services decreased significantly from their 2002 peak until 2007. They increased between 2008 and 2011, but started a decreasing trend after 2011.
- The number of physicians participating in treating workers’ compensation injured employees increased by 4 percent, from 17,656 in 2005 to 18,419 in 2017, while the number of claims decreased 20 percent during the same time frame. As a result, the average number of injured employees per participating physician continued to decrease, from 19.4 in 2005 to 14.8 in 2017.
- Return-to-work rates have improved since the 2005 legislative reforms. A higher percentage of injured employees receiving income benefits went back to work within six months in 2016 (78 percent), compared to those in 2004 (74 percent).
- The number of medical disputes decreased from more than 13,000 in 2005 to less than 5,000 in 2017, a decrease of about 63 percent.
- Private-sector employer participation rates decreased from 78 percent in 2016 to 72 percent in 2018. However, the subscription rates for these two survey years remain the highest rates since the first employer survey in 1993.