The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) finds that workers’ compensations payments for medical care and cash benefits for U.S. workers injured on the job is increasing. In its 13th report providing comprehensive data on workers’ compensation cash and medical payments for the nation as well as each state, the District of Columbia and federal programs, NASI says that payments increased 4.4% to $57.6 billion in 2008.

According to the study, “Workers’ Compensation: Benefits, Coverage and Costs, 2008,” for the first time, medical benefits accounted for over half (50.4%) of all benefits paid. An 8.8% increase in payments for medical care drove medical spending to $29.1 billion in 2008 (the most recent year with complete data), while wage replacement benefits paid directly to injured workers rose by 0.3% to $28.6 billion.

“The growth in medical spending may reflect both higher prices for medical care and greater use of services,” says John Burton, Jr., chair of the panel that oversees the report. “The increase is the continuation of a long-term trend since 1980, but this is the first year that payments for medical care were more than half of all workers’ compensation benefits.”

Employers paid a total of $78.9 billion nationwide for workers’ compensation, a decrease of 6.7% from the previous year. For long-term trends, it is useful to consider workers’ compensation benefits per $100 of payroll covered by the program. By this measure, cash benefits were $0.48 per $100 of payroll in 2008. This is the lowest level since 1980 (the earliest date with comparable data).

For more information click here to download the full report.  

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