A recent study revealed that Louisiana has some of the highest workers’ compensation costs in the nation, but this does not appear to be translating into better care for the state’s injured workers. Per the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, the recent study, conducted by the Workers Compensation Research Institute, showed that workers’ compensation costs per claims involving more than seven days of lost work time were higher in Louisiana than in 17 other states. Additionally, the average cost per claim has risen steadily since 2012, at a rate of somewhere between 4 and 10 percent each year.
Just what is contributing to Louisiana’s uncharacteristically high workers’ compensation costs?
Part of the reason Louisiana’s workers’ compensation costs are higher than so many other states is likely due to the fact that the state has high rates of obesity and diabetes, both of which tend to drive up expenses. Others blame the problem on the state’s outdated workers’ compensation fee schedule, which has not undergone updating for decades. The fee schedule is what determines how much money the state’s health care providers receive in reimbursements.
Louisiana also has a higher rate of attorney involvement than other states, and this, too, is likely contributing to the state's high workers’ compensation costs. Louisiana’s injured workers also typically receive disability benefits for nine to 16 weeks longer than injured workers in other states, which again drives up costs.
High costs not translating to better care
While Louisiana’s injured workers are spending considerable time out of work, they are not necessarily receiving better care for their injuries or ailments simply for staying out of work for a longer period. Instead, workers’ compensation costs continue to rise, yet there has not been a notable improvement in worker healthcare. There has, however, been a decrease in overall injury rates among Louisiana employees recently, raising even more questions about why workers’ compensation costs continue to rise across the state.