had higher income benefit payments per claim among 16 states in a
recent study, slower return to work resulting in longer duration of
temporary disability, and larger lump-sum settlements than in many
The study, Baseline for Evaluating Impact of 2011 Reforms in North
Carolina: CompScope Benchmarks, 12th Edition, by the Workers
Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), provides data to measure the
future impact of 2011 reforms on the workers’ compensation system.
WCRI deputy director and counsel, said WCRI intends to monitor
post-reform performance of the North Carolina system. She said
policymakers and stakeholders must keep in mind that the recession
may have shaped what they observe about performance metrics. “For
example, reforms could be very effective in speeding return to work
and lowering employer costs, but we nonetheless might observe longer
duration of temporary disability and higher income benefits per
claim due to slower return to work because there are fewer jobs
available,” Tanabe said.
The latest study examines how overall medical costs per claim in
North Carolina compare to other study states and how those costs
have changed over time. New fee schedule rules, effective July 2009,
reduced maximum hospital reimbursement rates. Prior to the
reductions, hospital costs per workers’ compensation claim in North
Carolina were among the highest of the 16 states included in the
CompScope reports by WCRI, and the main driver of growth in medical
costs per claim.
From 2008 to 2009, growth in North Carolina medical costs per claim
was more moderate at 3 percent, compared with average yearly growth
of 8 percent from 2004 to 2008.