The Montana workers’ comp turnaround

2013-09-08T00:00:00Z The Montana workers’ comp turnaround Helena Independent Record
September 08, 2013 12:00 am

In a testament to what Montana can accomplish when it really puts its mind to it, the state has managed to turn its workers’ compensation numbers around in just three years.

This isn’t news to anyone in Montana who pays workers’ comp premiums. But most of these folks will also remember what things were like in 2010, when Montana had the highest workers’ comp premium rates in the nation.

Montana’s abysmally high rates were a product of too frequent workplace injuries, high claim rates and other factors. Starting during the 2011 Legislature, however, Montana began taking steps to address those factors and drive down the costs.

Those efforts not only appear to have been successful, they appear to be still paying off. Just last month, the Montana Department of Labor reported that the number of workers’ comp injury claims fell by about 4 percent since last year.

Fewer workplace injuries and fewer claims, of course, translate into lower costs for workers’ comp insurance. And in fact, a 6 percent rate decrease already went into effect on July 1 for the Montana State Fund’s 26,000 employers — welcome news for those who purchase workers’ comp insurance from the largest workers’ comp insurance company in the state.

But by far the biggest premium reduction came after the 2011 legislative session. That year, a 22 percent reduction helped drive down Montana’s workers’ comp rate ranking from most expensive to eighth-most expensive of the 50 states.

Unfortunately, Montana still has a relatively high rate of workplace injuries — and workers’ comp rate. A stronger focus on improving workplace safety will undoubtedly help improve this.

Department of Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy says that the agency will be reconvening the Labor Management Advisory Council to further study the impact of reform legislation. Hopefully this council will hit on some strategies to continue making headway.

At least Montana is finally headed in the right direction.

This editorial first appeared in the Missoulian

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. sweetgrass
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    sweetgrass - October 05, 2013 9:07 am
    I would have believed this baloney before my personal experience with State Fund. Sadly, they are a very fraudulent organization, whose goal is to avoid payment, no matter what untruths they have to tell or who gets injured even further. They hire so-called independent medical evaluators who are anything but independent--they are employees of State Fund--and only State Fund--and their job is to twist around every fact and every other doctor's diagnosis to deny your claim. If you find your employer is pushing you to file a Worker's Comp claim for your on-the-job injury, there is a good reason for that...and it's not to protect you! This is just another fox-guarding-the-hen-house setup, where truth takes a back seat to politics and greed (just like all the state boards that are set up to reduce litigation, but actually serve as a safety net for the "good ol' boys and girls" who are not good at all). Research shows that in every study done on Worker's Comp, internal fraud is a much greater problem than employee fraud! Who knew? All this focus on employee fraud, the toll-free hotlines to report scammers, the big headlines on catching the bad guys with fake injuries. It's primarily a coverup for the internal corruption that is so deeply entrenched in that organization that I don't know what it would take for them to become honest again and limit their denials to only those who are lying. I am only the 3rd person to comment on this Editorial Opinion, but listen to the bitterness of those of us who have been harmed. Trust me: there are many, many more of us, whether they choose to speak out or not.
  2. FlamingLiberal1
    Report Abuse
    FlamingLiberal1 - September 12, 2013 1:43 pm
    I'm more concerned about the human toll than the bottom line. An injured worker shouldn't have to retain and pay an attorney for most simple cases.
  3. bearpaws
    Report Abuse
    bearpaws - September 11, 2013 3:40 pm
    Oh, such peach, weenie wonderful news! Tell us how many claims are denied, how many have to be litigated, and how much money goes into the State Fund Administrator's pocket. You are reprinting garbage, IR.

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