Bill to Create Illinois State Workers Compensation Fund Advances

A bill to create a state fund for workers’ compensation insurance in Illinois has passed the House Committee on State Government Administration. House Bill 2919 would create a state insurance fund that would compete with private insurers.

Advocates of the change say that the fund would provide private insurers with competition, which would bring workers’ compensation premiums down for employers. The bill is supported by Democrats in the state legislature, who say the goal is fair and affordable insurance rates for businesses. Private insurers are strongly opposed to the bill, saying that a state fund will not bring prices down and would violate free market principles. Currently more than 300 private insurance companies compete for workers’ compensation business in Illinois.

Workers’ compensation insurance premiums have already dropped 9.2 percent since reforms that began in September of 2011, but advocates of the state fund say that is not fast enough. Representatives of the insurance industry say that rates have not dropped as much as expected partly because of the increasing cost of health care.

Approximately half of U.S. states have a state fund for workers’ comp insurance, with most of these allowing the state fund to compete with private insurers. Four states have a state fund as the exclusive insurer for workers’ compensation. Researchers have found that the occasional higher losses of state funds are offset by better efforts to prevent work injuries and lower overhead expenses.

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