Worker's Compensation Basic Facts

Brief History

Read a brief history of Wisconsin's Worker's Compensation, why it was adopted and an explanation of some of its special funds.

Wisconsin Population, WC Division Size and Budget

With approximately one staff member for every 54,000 people in the state, and a budget that works out to approximately $2.50 per person in the state, the WC Division is an efficient organization doing more with less. HOWEVER, although it is commonly assumed that the WC Division is funded by taxpayer money, this IS NOT THE CASE. The WC Division is funded by assessments levied against insurance carriers and self-insured employers writing worker's compensation policies in the state; it is not funded by taxpayer money.

Wisconsin Workforce, Number of WC Policies, Net Direct Earned Premiums and Premium Rate

In 2008 94% of Wisconsin's estimated workforce was covered by a worker's compensation policy. This incredible achievement is due to an aggressive investigative effort by the staff of the WC Division's Bureau of Insurance Programs to bring employers into compliance with the law. The relationship between net direct earned WC premiums and premium rate show that by comparison rates are low in Wisconsin, and yet Wisconsin has a thriving environment for insurance carriers writing worker's compensation policies in the state. This is a win-win situation for employers and insurers.

WC Claim and Indemnity Information

The number of claims reported to the Wisconsin Worker's Compensation Division has actually gone down by an average of just over 2,100 per year, while the number of claims marked denials, no lost time or non-compensable has bounced up and down from year to year. The number of litigated worker's compensation claims has gone up and down from year to year as well.

WC Claim Cost and Outcome Information

It is a common misconception that average worker's compensation claim costs are high in Wisconsin compared to other states. This is perhaps driven by the fact that prices for medical services, which affect the medical costs of a claim, are undoubtedly very high in Wisconsin. However, the facts tell a different story. Despite the high prices of medical services in Wisconsin, factors such as the utilization rates of medical services, specialty medical services, the number of visits involved, the percent of claims with permanent partial disability, etc., all combine to give Wisconsin an average claim cost that is the 5th lowest out of 45 non-monopolistic fund states. Not only is the average claim cost in Wisconsin quite low, but injured workers are very satisfied with their outcomes. In an 11 state study entitled Comparing Outcomes for Injured Workers in Michigan, Wisconsin scored the best on eight out of the nine metrics employed (Workers Compensation Research Institute, 2010 Annual Report, p. 27). Among 10 states examined for a 2010 study it was found that “return to work and worker satisfaction with care in Wisconsin were the highest of the states studied…” (Workers Compensation Research Institute 2010 study How Have Worker Outcomes and Medical Costs Changed in Wisconsin? p. 3).

Special WC Funds Information

Wisconsin has a number of active, healthy special funds related to worker's compensation, funds which provide benefits for injured workers when they might otherwise not receive them.