Regulators, employer groups and even some worker advocates study it. Here is a very good summary of a panel discussion at the recent IAIABC (International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions) convention (Jennifer Flood, who was part of the panel, is Oregon’s Ombudsman for injured workers):

At the 2015 IAIABC Convention an panel discussed what issues impacting workers’ compensation are not being adequately discussed and reported on by the industry. The panel consisted of:

  • Lisa Ann Forsythe – Coventry (moderator)
  • Mona Carter – NCCI
  • Roberto Ceniceros – Risk & Insurance
  • Jennifer Flood – Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services
  • Bob Malooly – Claim Maps Handling

Among the highlights:

  • There is not enough talk about the injured worker experience in the workers’ compensation system. ProPublica is trying to highlight some of the bad experiences, but it is also important to share stores of recovery and success.
  • While you hear about the potential impact of marijuana on workers’ compensation regularly, this is still an issue that causes much confusion in the industry. Employers still have lots of questions about the impact this will have on their workforce.
  • The annual ranking of workers’ compensation published by the State of Oregon is useful but often misused. As a state, you cannot simply look at your ranking in a bubble without considering all the issues that impact your worker population.
  • It would be good to see something that ranked the states on their ability to return injured workers to health and back to the workplace. This factor is very important to employers but such statistics are not captured. A higher cost system could be justified if it is producing better outcomes for injured workers.
  • Too many people want to believe that fraud by injured workers is widespread in the system, but the data simply does not support that. Employer fraud by employee misclassification and under-reporting payroll is much more widespread that injured worker fraud.
  • By under-reporting the positive stories of workers’ compensation we damage the public image of our industry. This makes good physicians hesitant to engage in the workers’ compensation system.
  • Regulators can learn from the private sector on how to work with the media and engage the media to help promote the positive aspects of workers’ compensation.
  • Regulators need to do a better job working with the media to explain their policy decisions to answer questions before they are asked. There is an opportunity to get out in front of stories and avoid confusion.
  • There will always be reporters looking for negative stories. It is important to counter these by demonstrating the good things you are doing.
  • We need to be focusing more on ways to measure outcomes in the workers compensation system. We cannot simply evaluate the effectiveness of workers compensation by looking at costs alone.
  • It is important to remember that those who do not deal with workers’ compensation on a regular basis will not understand the nuisances and terminology of the system. We need to make sure we are speaking in plain language and explain terminology when speaking with others about industry issues.