Workers injured while on the job are eligible for workers’ compensation insurance – this benefit is granted only on the basis of a medical records review to establish the injury and its severity. Workers’ comp insurance protects employees and help employers cover the cost of care provided to the injured employee. Small as well as large businesses require this insurance coverage and must also understand its ins and outs. In the United States, no two states have exactly the same regulations regarding workers’ compensation. This makes it imperative for employers to have a clear understanding of their state’s laws and legal obligations for covering employees. While most states mandate employers to cover any full-time or part-time employees, some states such as Florida and South Carolina need carry this insurance only if the employer has four employees or more. The only state where coverage is optional is Texas though an employer can still be held liable for workers’ on-the-job injuries. Some states offer exemption for certain types of workers including domestic employees, seasonal workers, and farm workers. State laws are also different as regards the amount of coverage required.
At present, 95% of full-time U.S. workers are covered by the workers’ comp system. It is estimated that claim frequency has reduced by around 50%, which shows that the focus on safety has been paramount over the last 20 years. There has been strong focus on return-to-work programs that has reduced claims rate as well as provided constructive social benefits to employees.
The program is recognized for its merits and it is important for all organizations to ensure that it stays intact to help injured workers and protect employers from litigation. For the system to remain robust and alive, it needs to adapt in keeping with new and emerging requirements. We see technology transforming the workplace, and it also has a huge effect on medical treatments. The changes happening in every sector bring in varying needs for employees and employers, and the workers’ compensation system must be flexible enough to accommodate those changes.
Like any other industry, the workers’ compensation industry must strive to stay relevant. In this regard, there are some major challenges to be addressed.
- The main stakeholders in the industry have to understand the value of the system. This is possible only with better communication of the successes of the industry that will help establish the value of the system.
- Entities in the industry must be extremely cautious about the balance required across the stakeholder groups.
- The 21st century is extremely fast-paced, with so many changes happening quickly. Therefore, the system must keep up with this pace, and adapt to meet customer requirements in a timely manner.
- There are many myths and misgivings circulating about the workers’ comp system. It is important to remove such misinformation, and this requires greater data-driven thought leadership.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the workers’ compensation system is and has to stay pertinent now and in the future. By addressing the challenges outlined above, it is possible for the system to continue providing value and support to workers and employers. It requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and regular opportune response to the various changes happening in the industry. There is no easy way out, but it is something the workers’ compensation industry must aggressively pursue so that this beneficial program continues to be strong and significant.