Oklahoma’s workers’ comp system is currently being reformed. If you haven’t heard this news, the most important takeaway at this moment is that the system is reforming to a more administrative stance than one ruled by the courts. The theory, and I say theory for a reason, is that reform will bring savings for business owners who select to opt out of the current system.
But does it ever work that easily? Of course it does not. The issue being discussed now, especially among those in opposition of the Oklahoma workers’ comp reform, is that businesses will end up paying the same amount they do now, or more.
It’s been reported that the Oklahoma insurance commissioner can disapprove specific employer benefit plans and cause employers to fund a financial back-up plan, which would cut any savings businesses expect to receive.
The Oklahoma law could also make businesses pay for alternative injured-worker benefit plans equal to those currently required by the state system.
So where are the savings? Again, most of these reforms look appealing on paper, but when it comes to implementation, any savings expected end up being tossed to the wind because the new system is just as complicated as the previous one. If businesses are trying to cut ties with the state system and be more free to do what they want, it’s not necessarily happening with new reforms.
Even if reforms give businesses more power to select the benefit plans they offer, are they really saving more if workers get hurt on the job and sue because the benefit plan covers little to none of the costs needed to recover? But wait—wasn’t this reform supposed to cure that particular issue? We’ll have to wait to see.