Texas ranked the third lowest in average workers’ compensation claim costs in a recent study that examined worker injury claims in 18 states.
The study released this week by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) measured changes in costs per workers’ comp claims from 2012 through the end of 2017. Texas had the third lowest costs, behind Tennessee and North Carolina.
The numbers reflected claims with more than one week of lost employee time for those with at least one year of experience through March 2018
“The recent Texas trends in cost components for claims differed from trends in many other study states,” Ramona Tanabe, WCRI’s executive vice president and counsel, said in a prepared statement.
In Texas, during the years 2015 to 2017, medical payouts per workers’ comp claim declined 5 percent annually while such payments tended to be unchanged or growing in other states examined, according to Tanabe.
“Indemnity benefits per claim were stable (decreasing slightly) from 2015 to 2017 in Texas, while in some other study states they were growing,” Tanabe said.
For 2015 claims with three years of maturity, Texas ranked the lowest of the 18 states in total costs per claim, the study found.
“Indemnity benefits per claim were 28 percent lower in Texas than the median state,” Tanabe said. “Several factors, which reflect system features, contributed to that result.”
These include the finding that lump-sum payments for permanent partial disability (PPD) per PPD/lump-sum claims were lowest in Texas, she said.
“The main reasons for that result are that most lump-sum settlements are not permitted in Texas as liability for future medical benefits cannot be settled,” Tanabe said.
Total costs per claim in the states studied during the five-year period on average rose about 2.8 percent, according to the study.
Benefit delivery expenses in Texas dropped 4 percent annually between 2015 and 2017, which points to lower cost-containment expenses in the claims studied, the study found.
The results dovetail with a 2018 study by Texas Department of Insurance Workers’ Compensation Research and Evaluation Group, which measured how effective the system is at providing medical care to injured workers in a timely manner.
In 2017, 84 percent of injured workers in Texas received their initial care within a week of their injuries, the 2018 study said. And since 2005, the number of patients per doctor in the system decreased by nearly 25 percent, leading to improved health care options for injured workers, according to the study.
“The study shows that Texas is helping injured employees more quickly and efficiently,” Texas Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Cassie Brown said in a prepared statement. “It also shows how committed doctors are to remaining in our workers’ comp system.”