Workers’ compensation experience rating and return to work

Seth Seabury, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, U.S.A.

Abstract

Objective: In workers’ compensation schemes, experience rating is used to provide employers with incentives to invest in the safety of workers. However, the impact of experience rating on return-to-work outcomes for injured workers is largely unknown. Self-insurance, which by definition implies perfect experience rating, is sometimes used as a proxy for experience rating in empirical work. This study assessed the association between self-insurance and return to work after a permanently disabling workplace injury.

Methods: This study used data on permanent partial disability claimants in the California workers’ compensation system.

Results: The study found that workers injured at self-insured firms had significantly improved return-to-work outcomes up to five years after their injury.

Conclusion: Future research should investigate which mechanisms lead to improved return-to-work outcomes by self-insured firms and whether experience rating could be used to help extend these to a broader sample of firms.

Authors: Seth Seabury, Christopher McLaren, Robert Reville, Frank Neuhauser and John Mendeloff

Reference: Workers' compensation experience rating and return to work. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 2012; 10(1):97-115

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