The nation’s workers’ compensation system is facing an aging workforce and a pending widespread labor shortage. Federal policies on immigration and health insurance promise to exacerbate these challenges and contribute to causing far more claims and higher costs in the years ahead, according to a long-time workers’ compensation economist and researcher.
Workers’ compensation claims could double, and overall costs could balloon 300 percent in a little more than a decade, namely by 2030, without any increase in benefits to workers, according to Dr. Richard Victor. Dr. Victor is a senior fellow with the Sedgwick Institute, a risk and benefits think tank.
Dr. Victor, an economist who founded the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) in 1983 and served as director until 2016, returned to his WCRI stomping ground at its annual conference last week. There, he highlighted the current problems facing workers who bring worker’s compensation claims.
Dr. Victor said that in contrast to the recent period of stable claims frequency, those various external forces could bring far more cases into the system, piling on top of the normal growth in medical and indemnity costs over the next decade. He expressed concern that the approaches to reforming workers’ compensation that have worked for the last 100 years may not be effective or achievable in the years ahead, given the external nature of the forces coming to bear as well as the polarization of politics and ineffectiveness of government today.
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