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ANU Comcare bill hits $11 million this year

The Australian National University has joined public service departments in having to foot massive new Comcare bills due to a rise in premiums by the federal workplace insurer.

The ANU has confirmed its Comcare premiums have risen over the last three years from around $4 million to $11 million.

This increase is despite a significant drop in the number of compensation claims made by the ANU over the same period.

According to the ANU's executive director of administration and planning, Chris Grange, latest ANU data shows 34 claims were paid by Comcare in 2014.

This is down from 53 in 2013 and 48 in 2012.

Mr Grange said that of the 34 claims in 2014, only seven resulted in lost work time, and only one resulted in more than four weeks off work.

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Claims were awarded over a range of issues, including work-related physical injuries and psychological injuries arising from alleged bullying.

Mr Grange attributed the sharp rise in premiums at the ANU over the past three years to Comcare's overall rises, saying "the premium rises were based on the total costs of the scheme to all government authorities, and were implemented across all agencies in the Comcare scheme".

Mr Grange noted premiums were based predominantly on the size of an organisation's payroll, rather than its safety performance.

In March, The Canberra Times reported public service chiefs were disturbed at the premium rises as their departments were hit with the full cost of hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation payments to sick and injured Commonwealth bureaucrats.
Commonwealth agencies had seen their workers' compensation premiums soar, sometimes into tens of millions of dollars, as Comcare has sought in recent years to recoup the cost of payouts from employing departments.
After recording losses of more than half a billion dollars in 2012, Comcare resorted to a dual strategy of cracking down on dodgy claims and sharply increasing the price of its insurance cover.

Premiums have nearly doubled, going from $221 million in 2011 to $411 million in 2014.

Figures for 2014-15 are expected to show another sharp rise and no let-up to the much-resented 13.5 per cent "penalty charge" slapped on top of premiums to reflect the scheme's underperformance in years past.
The ACT government has found the price hike so unpalatable it is taking its 20,000 public servants out of Comcare to establish its own insurance scheme after being presented with a bill of $95 million for 2014-2015.