Keep workers’ comp fees low

You won’t hear much criticism of Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation these days. But are things going too well at the BWC?

One always hears complaints from injured workers that they did not get fair shakes from workers’ compensation programs. Still, it appears the number involving Ohio’s program is not out of line.

Employers who pay premiums to the program seem happy about its performance. And why not? Only July 1, the BWC will cut premiums by 12 percent. That should save employers more than $163 million a year.

Putting the icing on the cake is the announcement by agency officials that they will pay $1.5 billion in rebates to premium payers. Yes, $1.5 billion. That represents about 85 percent of the total paid in premiums last year.

How is this possible?

Give credit first to Ohio working men and women and their companies for keeping workplaces as safe as possible. The less money the BWC has to pay out in claims, the lower the premiums it can charge.

Praise also goes to the financial wizards in charge of managing the BWC’s $27 billion in investments. Agency officials say excellent performance there allowed them to give the $1.5 billion back.

Again, however, is the agency doing too well with its money? Should a workers’ compensation program capable of paying $1.5 billion in rebates be reducing premiums even more than the 12 percent planned?

Possibly. It is something into which state officials should be looking.

Prudence needs to be the watchword, of course. Good times have not always been the BWC’s fate. During economic downturns, as with the “Great Recession” about a decade ago, the agency strains to make ends meet.

Still, if it is possible to reduce premiums more — to leave more money in the pockets of employers rather than to force them to wait for rebates while the state earns money on investments — that should be done.

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