The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Workers’ Comp:
Cheating Injured Workers

Apr 20, 2009

California workers’ compensation insurance was so underfunded that the state’s Insurance Rating Bureau was forced to recommend an increase in insurance premiums paid by employers.

Bosses rushed to protest, but they did not mention that workers’ comp premiums that businesses pay in California have dropped 65% in the last six years!

This is thanks to California’s workers’ comp “reforms” passed in 1993, 1997 and 2004. The last one in 2004 was proposed by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and passed by a Democratic legislature. Since then, this bipartisan law has saved California businesses an estimated 15 billion dollars every year!

Workers have paid the price – in money, pain and suffering. This “reform” not only lowered the premiums for bosses, it also drove down the number of claims, making it more difficult for injured workers to get their work-related injuries and illnesses recognized.

Not only employers but also pharmaceutical and other health care corporations, insurance companies, lawyers have all richly profited from California’s workers’ comp “reform” – at the expense of injured workers!

Across the U.S., state politicians have been chopping into workers’ comp programs in similar ways. To name just a few examples – in Arkansas, workers’ comp payments have dropped 63% since 1996; Louisiana wants to drop workers’ comp premiums by 17.4%, after dropping them already 8.6 last year and 15.8% in 2007; Utah is in the process of lowering the current 5.5% premium tax for employers to 1.25% by 2013.

Workers’ comp is the oldest social insurance program in the U.S., introduced in some states about a century ago. It provides workers medical care and some money for some injuries suffered on the job – to be funded by taxing employers. In return, workers give up their right to sue their bosses. The results, as every worker knows, have been rather one-sided, in favor of the bosses.

Not a big surprise in a society that’s run by the bosses and their politicians.