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The health of the workers’ compensation system in California and statewide economic trends likely to impact the system in the future were among the topics discussed at this months Annual WCIRB Workers’ Compensation Conference in San Francisco. The Conference is an opportunity for WCIRB members and other industry stakeholders to discuss issues of common concern and to hear from leading voices in the California workers’ compensation system.

WCIRB President and CEO Bill Mudge opened the Conference with a “health checkup” on the State’s 101 year old workers’ compensation system from the perspective of injured workers, employers and insurers. Based on Mr. Mudge’s observations, “vital signs” for the California system are mixed.

1) For injured workers, fewer injuries and timely access to care and benefits are balanced by concerns over the level of wage replacement, the problems associated with high rates of long-term opioid use and delays getting back to work.
2) For employers, fewer injuries, numerous insurance choices and a charged rate level that remains approximately 50% below what it was a decade ago are balanced against a litigious, costly and complex workers’ compensation system.
3) For insurers, the size of the workers’ compensation market, pricing flexibility and competition are balanced against volatile insurer results, unpredictable outcomes, and a complex benefit delivery system.

Overall there has been an 83% reduction in claim frequency in the past 50 years. 85% of injured workers who responded to a survey were satisfied with the medical care they received. Yet California has 47% of lost time claims with permanent disability. This ranks as the seventh highest state. California is among the top ten states with longer term opiate use.