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Oklahoma is opting out of Opt Out

With the news that NCCI is proposing a 10.2 percent rate decrease for Oklahoma, [sub req] the “Opt-Out” movement is rapidly approaching irrelevancy.

Following on the heels of successful legal challenges to Opt Out legislation (with more possibly on the way), the news that a mere 54 employers have chosen the Opt Out option, AND a 3.4 percent decrease earlier in the year, I don’t see how Opting Out of workers’ comp in the only state that allows it will survive. [technically Texas employers “opt in” to comp as they are not legally required to provide the coverage.]

This is a good thing.

While many employers that Opt Out do so honorably and with the full intention of dealing with their workers fairly and equitably, some most assuredly do not.  While the work comp system has its flaws – and more than its share of bad actors in all areas, it does work quite well for the vast majority of employers and patients.

Opt out allows bad actors to completely screw their employees, hiding behind legal walls that protect the employer from legal action by injured workers.  That’s completely wrong, and is all but impossible under workers’ comp statutes.

What does this mean for you?

Can we please nail the coffin shut and throw a truckload of dirt on top of an idea that deserves to not see the light of day?

5 thoughts on “Oklahoma is opting out of Opt Out”

  1. What about fixing it in OK? Their strategy was to “match” benefits for WC so injured workers’ get the care and benefits they deserve, and the employers are not bogged down with the extra high costs imbedded in the “WC system”. If they can solve that, Texas ought to do the same thing. In OK, if they don’t match the WC benefits, the employer can be liable as in Texas. If they match benefits, it is sole remedy.

    They should be lower rates…things were completely out of control with awards under the WC courts. Shifting to an admin. system should have provide some savings/cost relief. It is still not enough. And a “fair” opt out plan would save even more dollars for employers.

    We are on the same wavelength on getting injured workers the right benefits–the “bad” employers in Texas are not the model.

    Keep up the good work. Love the blog. It is okay to disagree.

  2. Joe, you mention a performance standard of “what works well for the vast majority of employers and patients.” Further independent verification that this is, in fact, the result from both the Texas and Oklahoma Options would be most welcome. Every study to date confirms it. More studies are in process. Let me know if you would like to pursue. Thanks.

    1. Bill – thanks for the note. As long as those studies include non-subscribers of all stripes in TX, happy to review. Again, I don’t see why there’s a need for opt out, especially given the reforms instituted in OK.

      Francis, great to hear from you. As one who is much closer to this then I, I certainly take your comments to heart. I remain concerned that opt-out is unneeded and potentially problematic. Work comp rates are coming down dramatically in OK, and the “equal benefits” clause is one that, given the legal power of employers, most injured workers would be hard-pressed to contest.

  3. Problems in Oklahoma are multiple regarding Opt Out, but one of them has been the concept of “matching benefits”. The law states “Equal to or better” than those offered by the state mandated system, yet the plans approved have been shown to be anything but. While actual benefit percentages are a bit higher, the effects of taxation are not considered, nor is the multiple variances in reporting requirements, appeal process, and coverage exclusions, etc. The list goes on and on.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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