Florida businesses can expect to pay more for worker's compensation insurance in 2012, but rates will remain far below the levels when the state topped the nation.
Florida Insurance Commission Kevin McCarty signaled Monday that he will approve a 8.9 percent increase if the National Council on Compensation Insurance refiles its request for an increase, making some technical changes.
Even with the rate increase, Florida will remain one of the cheapest states in which business can insure their workers against injuries on the job.
Prior to 2003, when the legislature reformed state practices, Florida consistently ranked first or second in the nation for highest worker's compensation costs, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Rates projected to go into effect Jan. 1 are 58.6 percent lower than the 2003 rate.
In a statement released Monday, McCarty said that rates could be even lower if the legislature would address the practice of worker's compensation doctors repackaging prescription drugs and significantly marking up the cost.
The proportion of physician-dispensed drugs prescribed for worker's compensation claims grew from 9 percent to 50 percent between 2003 and 2009, According to the NCCI. During those six years, the average cost of drugs dispensed by doctors increased from $55 to $180.
The council estimated that workers' compensation rates could be reduced by 2.5 percent if reigned in the mark up of those drugs.
"It is imperative that the Florida Legislature address this issue during the upcoming legislative session," McCarty said.