In the first independent assessment of the so-called “opt-out” alternative to workers’ compensation since the ProPublica/NPR think piece last year, the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) took on the issue.
What researchers discovered is troubling, especially in light of the fact that an opt-out alternative is still technically on the table for workers in South Carolina.
The crux of the research is that these programs – also referred to as “employer alternatives” or “the option” – are bad for workers. They give companies a choice of either buying a traditional workers’ compensation policy or formulating one of their own. Oklahoma has already enacted such a plan, and proposals for similar alternatives have been weighed in South Carolina and Tennessee. What the study authors found was that under opt-out plans, workers are subjected to:
- An inherent conflict of interest;
- Barriers to benefits;
- Unequal treatment;
- Limited appeals;
- Little to no independent oversight.