Reading September’s 2010 report “Biggest Bang for the Buck” put out by Americans for Insurance Reform. This report was generated for the State of Washington which is one of four self insuring states for Workers’ Compensation. Ohio is another. Employers in the other forty six states must use private insurance companies to cover their federally required mandate to provide for their injured workers medical care and lost wages.
Washington has an initiative on their November ballot to alter their exclusive government-run, non-profit workers’ compensation system. If passed it would allow the private insurance industry to enter the workers’ compensation market. This analysis was to determine if employers or workers would fare better if this happened.
Almost twenty years ago Ohio went through the same thing. The insurance companies placed a referendum on Ohio’s ballot. Business, labor and farmers all opposed this idea as well as the AFL-CIO, Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio Manufacturers’ Association. Millions of dollars were spent (because they had it) trying to convince voters this was a better choice for them. The people (79%) voted NO.
Why? Because the people of Ohio realized privatization would only benefit those employers who had the least amount of risk – insurance company’s could “cherry pick” employers thereby giving themselves the least amount of risk with the most amount of profit. All else would be left to depend on state coverage. What do you think would happen if the State of Ohio had to provide coverage for all businesses that have risks? Rates would increase hurting employers even more. And do you really think in a tight market like the one we have now the state would be able to provide for the injured worker like they currently do now? Probably not. So the injured worker gets hurt as well.
Ohio knew then that privatizing workers’ compensation would hurt the people it serves. We knew then that the only ones benefitting from privatization would be the insurance company’s.
Washington’s findings: “the Washington system is a far more efficient benefit delivery system to employees than the private market, with the lowest possible cost to employers.”
However “efficiently” managed system is the optimum word here. Can we say this about Ohio of late? How does our rehabilitation fund look – the fund that was once in the billions and is now near bankrupt? You know the fund that is used over and over and over again for chiro treatments that exceed the recommended benchmark parameters? Can anybody answer this question?
You’ve heard me say this time and time again…Govn’r what are you doing down there in Columbus? Who’s watching this sinking ship? Privatization, dear sir, is not the solution. If you read the recent report for Washington’s system and remember that Ohio is one of the largest manufacturing bases this country has … nothing has changed since 1981. What’s going on down there?