Analysis of performance against purpose 1
The Comcare 2015–16 Corporate Plan (Corporate Plan) set out ambitious objectives for Comcare’s workers’ compensation scheme for the public sector. To achieve an effective and sustainable scheme, our Corporate Plan focused on working with employers and employees to minimise harm in workplaces, support return to work and recovery at work, and deliver robust and transparent management of claims.
Comcare achieved an operating surplus of $253 million in 2015–16. This operating surplus was in part due to our continued focus on liability management and administrative efficiency. During the year, strategic projects targeting return to work outcomes, efficient and effective claims management processes, and risk based file reviews have contributed to a significant reduction in premium claims costs and outstanding claims liabilities.
The funding ratio of the workers’ compensation scheme for the public sector (premium scheme) increased to 84 per cent in 2015–16 from 76 per cent in 2014–15. While a number of factors contributed to this, one of the biggest influences was a significant fall in the number of active claims. This was not just the result of fewer reported claims—it was also driven by good claims management through liability determination, return to work and medical costs.
Comcare remains on target to to reduce the premium scheme liabilities to $1.9 billion by 30 June 2018, a reduction of $1 billion from the baseline at 30 June 2014, and to return to being fully funded (100 per cent funding ratio) by 1 July 2020.
Premium rates are falling with the average Commonwealth premium rate decreasing from 1.93 per cent of payroll (excluding GST) in 2014–15 to 1.85 per cent pf payroll in 2015–16. This is a 4 per cent reduction in the average Commonwealth premium rate. Comcare premiums will also reduce again in 2016–17. Comcare remains focused on our objective of returning premiums to an optimal level of 1.1 per cent of payroll (excluding GST) by 1 July 2018.
Claims payments and the number of employees receiving benefits for both incapacity and medical benefits decreased in 2015–16. The number of accepted claims has also decreased. We continue to focus on reducing the duration of time off work and reducing the number of employees receiving incapacity benefits. To achieve this Comcare is continuing to work closely with employers to improve return to work outcomes.
In 2015–16, Comcare made enhancements to our claims management model by supporting injured employees to return to work and health through a refined focus on early intervention. This included helping employees return to work sooner through greater collaboration with employers, rehabilitation case managers, medical providers and rehabilitation providers. These enhancements were important in reducing our liabilities, increasing return to work rates and delivering excellent customer service.
Premium rates are falling, claim frequency is reducing and claim duration after injury is beginning to improve. These trends are having a very positive impact on the financial position of the premium scheme, with the ratio of assets to liabilities increasing steadily and moving us towards a fully funded scheme ahead of target. Comcare has continued to refine claims management practices with a focus on early intervention and return to and recovery at work. We have also taken the first steps in digital transformation with initiatives that are making our business more efficient and improving our interactions with employees, employers and providers.
In 2015, work was undertaken to simplify and shorten Comcare’s Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (paper‑based). As part of Comcare’s Return to Work Survey, Commonwealth authority employees were asked a series of questions related to the perceived quality of the ‘new’ and ‘old’ claim form. Employees rated the new claim form more positively across all quality measures compared to those who had completed the old claim form. This encouraging result clearly indicates that the improvements made to the paper form are having the desired effect.
Comcare introduced three new online forms to enable employees and employers to do more of their business with Comcare digitally. The new forms are secure, easy to use and can be processed much faster by claims management employees due to auto-population functionality within Comcare’s claims management system—there is significantly less manual data-entry required. The online forms allow better collaboration with employees and employers to collect data through digital solutions to improve return to work rates and reduce claims while cutting red tape. The new forms include; Workers’ Compensation Claim Form, Claim for Time Off Work and Normal Weekly Earnings Form.
The rollout of these new online forms to over 180 premium paying employers meets key objectives in the Corporate Plan and the Comcare Digital Strategy 2015–20. Early data shows the average claim submission time reducing from 16.5 days to 5.1 days. This is a significant service delivery improvement for Comcare and just one of the ways that we are using new technology platforms and systems to support us in focussing our efforts on helping employees to return to work and health faster.
Comcare’s Health Benefits of Work Programme is centred on the ever increasing pool of evidence that good work, in general, is good for health and wellbeing. Particularly that participation in work as part of recovery is good for people. Employers and employees are central to promoting the health benefits of work and improving recovery at and return to work.
In 2015–16, we worked with General Practitioners (GPs) and employers in the ACT and surrounding region to develop and implement a medical certificate (Certificate of Capacity) that promotes the role of good work in recovery and focuses on what the employee can do at work, rather than what they can’t do.
We also introduced GP Return to Work Case Conferences to connect the GPs with the employer and injured employee. These case conferences complement current case conferencing already done between Comcare and the employer.