Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Calls on Legislators to Rein in Out-of-Control Worker’s Comp Medical Costs

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) launched the Worker’s Compensation Employers Coalition with the intent to advocate for real reforms to Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation laws. Joined by nearly 50 other business associations, the coalition’s members call on policymakers to adopt a fee schedule – like 44 other states have – to dramatically reduce worker’s compensation medical costs.


According to the Worker’s Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), Wisconsin has some of the highest medical costs for worker’s compensation in the nation. In the most recent year they studied, WCRI found Wisconsin costs to be 47% higher than the national median. Looking only at serious injuries that required a week off of work, costs were 60% higher than the median.


Employers have tried to manage the high costs by investing in safety and reducing injuries. In fact, from 1994 to 2014, workplace injuries dropped a dramatic 58% in Wisconsin, falling from 219,975 per year to 93,228. Unfortunately no cost savings materialized because the medical cost per claim rose over 450% over the same time period.

“Worker’s compensation medical costs are outrageously high in Wisconsin because we do not have a meaningful cost-control mechanism. That means higher costs for manufacturers, for cities and villages, for construction companies and farms and for every other employer,” said Chris Reader, WMC Director of Health and Human Resources Policy. “Forty-four states have made the sound decision of adopting a fee schedule to control medical costs within the government-mandated worker’s compensation system. It’s time for Wisconsin to do the same.”


WC-chart_States with WC Fee Sched


The Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC), a ten-person Department of Workforce Development council that includes employer groups and labor unions unanimously approved a package of reforms that includes a medical fee schedule. If enacted by lawmakers, the fee schedule will bring medical costs down and give Wisconsin one more area where we have a competitive edge.

“Public and private employers agree, along with organized labor, that the Legislature should reform worker’s compensation by adopting the medical fee schedule contained in the agreed-bill,” added Reader. “That is why we are asking lawmakers to support the package approved by the Advisory Council.”


According to the WCRI study, Wisconsin faces some of the highest worker’s compensation costs in the nation, and state’s with a fee schedule in place have much lower costs. More proof that Wisconsin needs a fee schedule to control these exorbitant costs.


Workers Comp Cost per Claim Graphic


Wisconsin’s nonhopital prices paid for worker’s compensation were also the highest of any state in the study. And not only was Wisconsin the highest, prices were nearly 2.5 times the median of the other states!


Workers Comp Nonhospital payments highest in study


Workers Comp nonhospital, chiro payments highest of 28 states


Wisconsin’s high costs show now is the time to fix this broken system, which is why the Worker’s Compensation Employers Coalition sent a letter to legislators urging them to take up the reforms approved by WCAC this session.

Helpful Handouts:

Worker’s Compensation Employers Coalition Memo to Legislators

Worker’s Compensation: It’s Time to Get Medical Costs Under Control

Worker’s Compensation: Medical Costs Quick Facts

Worker’s Compensation Petition to Lawmakers

Memo from WMC and Wisconsin State AFL-CIO in Support of Worker’s Compensation Agreed-Upon Bill

New National Study Shows Wisconsin Work Comp Costs Highest in Nation, Rates Highest in Midwest


For more information, please contact WMC Director of Health and Human Resources Policy Chris Reader at 608.258.3400.

Worker’s Compensation Employers Coalition Members:

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce
Alliance of Wisconsin Retailers
Associated Builders and Contractors- Wisconsin
Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee
Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin
Independent Business Association of Wisconsin
Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin
Integrated Risk Solutions
League of Wisconsin Municipalities
Mechanical Contractors Association of Wisconsin
Midwest Food Products Association
Midwest Hardware Association
Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin
Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association of Wisconsin
Plumbing Contractors of Southeastern Wisconsin
Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Wisconsin
Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin
Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association
SHRM – Wisconsin State Council
Skiing Wisconsin
Southeastern Wisconsin Drywall & Plastering Contractors Association
Tool, Die & Machining Association of Wisconsin
Wisconsin Association of Staffing Services
Wisconsin Association of Textile Services
Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association
Wisconsin Bankers Association
Wisconsin Builders Association
Wisconsin Cast Metals Association
Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association
Wisconsin Corn Growers Association
Wisconsin Dairy Business Association
Wisconsin Employers for Equitable Worker’s Compensation
Wisconsin Fabricare Institute
Wisconsin Farm Bureau
Wisconsin Geothermal Association
Wisconsin Green Industry Federation
Wisconsin Grocers Association
Wisconsin Housing Alliance
Wisconsin Independent Businesses
Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group
Wisconsin Insurance Alliance
Wisconsin Liquid Waste Carriers Association
Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association
Wisconsin Nursery and Landscape Association
Wisconsin Onsite Water Recycling Association
Wisconsin Paper Council
Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
Wisconsin Pork Association
Wisconsin Pump & Well Suppliers
Wisconsin Restaurant Association
Wisconsin Roofing Contractors Association
Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association
Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association
Wisconsin Utilities Association
Wisconsin Water Well Association