Workers’ compensation is a multifaceted topic that’s influenced by a variety of factors. What’s more, President Donald Trump’s election could mean changes for workers’ compensation. Here are four aspects of workers’ comp to keep an eye on:
Reform Within the States
“The U.S. Department of Labor under President Obama felt state workers’ compensation systems needed reform, and they were prepared to recommend minimum benefit standards to the states,” wrote Kimberly George and Mark Walls for Property Casualty 360. “(But) for now, any talk of the federal government getting involved in state workers’ compensation issues seems to be on hold.”
In past years, employers saw OSHA’s focus change from training to enforcement. “Recent OSHA policies such as the publicly accessible online database and restrictions on post-injury drug testing were met with significant resistance from the employer community, “George and Walls wrote. “OSHA falls under DOL and also is likely to have a new direction under the Trump administration.”
Even as the landscape changes, “employers still need to take action to remain in compliance with current rules,” wrote Kristen Beckman for Business Insurance.
Even though they’re likely to change, ignoring them “could leave employers behind and at risk for citations,” she wrote.
Rates and Premiums
Rates are going through what George and Walls call a “hyper-competitive market cycle.” “During the January 1 renewal cycle, rates trended flat or slightly down compared to expiring premiums,” they wrote. “The declining rates compared to increasing claims costs have caused A.M. Best, Fitch, and others to issue a negative outlook on workers’ compensation.” The cycle will likely end soon “as the new entrants into the marketplace start to see the long-tail losses from their business hitting the books,” they wrote.
Government policies and initiatives will affect rates, especially health care, immigration reform and even President Trump’s promise to improve infrastructure within the U.S., Guerrierro wrote. “Positive impacts are expected on worker’s comp premiums based on the $550 billion infrastructure plan laid out by President Trump to repair and/or upgrade roads, bridges, airports and waterways,” he writes.
The Movement Toward Value-based Care
The idea that providers’ compensation should be based on the value of services and how they affect patients’ health isn’t going anywhere, Guerrierro wrote. “The Department of Health and Human Services is pressing forward with plans to tie 50 percent of payments to value by 2020, while many private groups are aiming for 75 percent,” he wrote. “As such, employee benefit and workers’ comp professionals must prepare for the future of risk-bearing health care models.”