Workers Comp reform coming soon

In the last three years, under the management of Director Steve Buehrer and Governor John Kasich, the Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) has been working hard to return money to employers and lower premium rates. The BWC has also proposed a new reform package, which will change the premium payment system from retrospective to prospective, introduce the “True Up” option, and modify the One-Claim initiative.

Since 2011, the BWC has saved job providers $224 million in premiums by reducing average base premium rates. The BWC has also created the Billion Back program, which returned $1 billion in rebates to Ohio employers. In addition to these initiatives, the BWC has been taking steps to reform their Worker’s Compensation system.

Reforms passed the Ohio Legislature this week and are awaiting the Governor’s action. House Bill 493 will bring changes to the worker’s compensation system that will ease the burden on businesses, without taking benefits away from those who are disabled or unable to work.

The major provision of HB 493 is the change of the premium payment system from a retrospective system to a prospective system. The prospective system will require businesses to pay their premiums at the beginning of the policy year, rather than at the end. The bill also provides for a $1.2 billion credit to be spread amongst employers, in order to ease with the implementation of the change. This will create a system that is better aligned with industry standards, and also gives Ohio employers a degree of flexibility in their payments, as employers may choose to make their payments in 12 equal installments, or once a year.

This change will also lower premiums by up to 2% for private sector employers.  This will result in thousands of dollars saved for businesses. Businesses will also benefit from the new “True Up” provision, which requires employers to submit a payroll at the end of the year. The BWC will compare the true payroll to the estimation created by the BWC at the beginning of the policy year, and may award a credit to the employer if the payroll has changed from the estimate.

Another provision of HB 493 is the modification of the One-Claim Program. This program eases the burden on small businesses when they must report a major claim for the first time. The bill will now allow public employers to participate in the program, which will help small townships and villages significantly. When the financial impact of an uncharacteristic claim is minimized, more of that money will be invested in local communities.

The Bureau of Worker’s Compensation has taken many steps to reduce burdens on employers in the past three years, and the reforms in HB 493 will continue to lower premium rates, and give money back to employers.

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