Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study Committee Contemplates Revamping Fund

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study Committee Contemplates Revamping Fund

Article excerpt

An independent State Insurance Fund to write workers compensation insurance, which would be subject to the same controls and competition as private insurance companies, is being contemplated by a joint legislative committee looking at Oklahoma's workers compensation system.

The study committee on Tuesday continued to review a report on the system by Florida consultant John Lewis.

Oklahoma's State Insurance Fund's market share grew from about 10 percent in 1984 to 32 percent, or one third of the market, in 1989.

The fund was originally an insurer of last resort, but expanded its market in the past several years.

Some have complained that the fund is slow to pay temporary disability benefits. Data provided by Lewis showed that the fund took an average of 58.7 days from the date of a worker's injury until the first temporary total disability benefit payment.

The time lag for self-insurers was 38 days, while private carriers generally took 30.9 days.

Ross Williams, with the Oklahoma AFL-CIO, said he would like the state fund to compete in the marketplace to the degree it makes private insurers more competitive.

"The state fund should be able to offer the lowest rates, and should have the best safety program . . . the delivery system needs improvement," Williams said.

Ron Kreiter, deputy commissioner with the fund, said the main reason for the claims processing delays is a shortage of fulltime employees to do the work.

State government currently limits the number of full-time employees the fund can hire, Kreiter said.

Meanwhile, Pat Ryan, an attorney, said the fund should be accountable to an entity other than its present board of managers. …

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