A CALL FOR WORKERS' COMPENSATION INSURANCE REFORM
Over the past few years, lawmakers have pushed to reform workers’ compensation laws around the country. The state of worker’s comp today is worse than ever because employers and insurance companies have cut compensation benefits which make it harder for workers to get the care they need when they are hurt on the job. Instead, they shift the financial burden of injury benefits onto other programs like Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. These programs aren’t meant to shoulder the entire cost of an injury on the job, and as a result, workers deal with the consequences.
In Illinois, recent reforms have helped lower the cost of workers’ compensation and over the course of five years, there has been a significant drop in employer costs – but this is only one piece of the puzzle. The National Council on Compensation Insurance recommended that insurance companies lower their premiums by nearly 20% to help match these lower rates, but instead of passing these significant savings on, insurance companies have pocketed it to make a profit.
A report released by the Labor Department detailed the dire state of workers’ compensation laws and called for federal regulation. This report is an important step towards changing this corrupt system, but what really needs to happen is insurance reform. As Labor Secretary Thomas Perez stated in an NPR article, the current system is “really putting workers who are hurt on the job on a pathway to poverty.” Insurance companies and employers need to be held accountable for their actions, and instead of keeping the nearly $1.5 billion in insurance premiums as profit, it needs to be put towards giving workers the medical care and financial support they need while they are away from their job.