Workers' compensation benefits and shifting costs for occupational injury and illness

J Occup Environ Med. 2012 Apr;54(4):445-50. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182451e54.


Background: Whereas national prevalence estimates for workers' compensation benefits are available, incidence estimates are not. Moreover, few studies address which groups in the economy pay for occupational injury and illness when workers' compensation does not.

Methods: Data on numbers of cases and costs per case were drawn from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and National Council on Compensation Insurance data sets. Costs not covered by workers' compensation were estimated for private and public entities.

Results: Total benefits in 2007 were estimated to be $51.7 billion, with $29.8 billion for medical benefits and $21.9 billion for indemnity benefits. For medical costs not covered by workers' compensation, other (non-workers' compensation) insurance covered $14.22 billion, Medicare covered $7.16 billion, and Medicaid covered $5.47 billion.

Conclusion: Incidence estimates of national benefits for workers' compensation were generated by combining existing published data. Costs were shifted to workers and their families, non-workers' compensation insurance carriers, and governments.

MeSH terms

  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Insurance, Health / economics
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicaid / economics
  • Medicare / economics
  • Occupational Diseases / economics*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Injuries / economics*
  • Occupational Injuries / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workers' Compensation / economics*
  • Workers' Compensation / statistics & numerical data