Occupational injuries have a significant effect on earnings and injured workers can have difficulty getting the health care service they need. Those were among the findings of reports just released by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), which compared the outcomes of workers injured on the job in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, and Georgia with outcomes in 11 other states. The comparisons included recovery of physical health and functioning, return to work, earnings recovery, access to medical care, and satisfaction with medical care. 

“By examining outcomes of injured workers, policymakers and other stakeholders can better understand how different state workers’ compensation systems compare in order to identify and prioritize opportunities to improve system performance,” said Ramona Tanabe, WCRI’s executive vice president and counsel.

The research, Comparing Outcomes for Workers, 2019 Interviews, is a product of an ongoing, multiyear effort by WCRI to collect and examine data on the outcomes of medical care achieved by workers injured in a growing number of states. In addition to the four states with worker surveys in 2019, the studies include interviews previously conducted in 11 other states (Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.).

Key findings:

  • Arkansas: Eight percent of workers in Arkansas reported earning “a lot less” at the time of the interview compared with the time of the injury. This was similar to what we observed in the median of the study states (8 percent).
  • Connecticut: About four out of five Connecticut workers said that they were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with their overall workers’ compensation medical care (83 percent). At the same time, 11 percent said that they were “very dissatisfied.” This was somewhat lower than the median state in our analysis.
  • Florida: Sixteen percent of Florida workers with more than seven days of lost time reported never returning to work for at least a one-month period predominantly due to the injury as of three years post-injury, and 20 percent reported no substantial return to work within one year of the injury. In the median state, these figures were 14 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
  • Georgia: Nineteen percent of workers in Georgia reported that they had “big problems” getting the services that they or their provider wanted. This was similar to what we observed in a typical study state. Seventeen percent of Georgia workers reported “big problems” getting the primary provider they wanted. This was similar to the median state in our study.

The studies were authored by WCRI’s Dr. Bogdan Savych and Dr. Vennela Thumula. To learn more about these studies or to purchase copies, visit WCRI’s website at https://www.wcrinet.org/reports/comparing-outcomes-for-workers-2019-interviews.https://www.wcrinet.org/reports/comparing-outcomes-for-workers-2019-interviews.

About WCRI:

The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is an independent, not-for-profit research organization based in Cambridge, MA. The Institute does not take positions on the issues it researches; rather, it provides information obtained through studies and data collection efforts, which conform to recognized scientific methods. Objectivity is further ensured through rigorous, unbiased peer review procedures. WCRI's diverse membership includes employers; insurers; governmental entities; managed care companies; health care providers; insurance regulators; state labor organizations; and state administrative agencies in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.