The U.S. Government Accountability Office has revealed that the Peace Corps spent over $40 million to provide 3,305 returned volunteers benefits through workers compensations programs over a five-year-period.
Last month, the office released a report comparing the Peace Corps’ workers comp benefits, which are provided under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, with U.S. Agency for International Development off-shore contractors’ and subcontractors’ employee benefits, which are provided under the Defense Base Act.
According to the report, between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014, the Peace Corps paid about $41 million in medical expense reimbursement for some 3,305 volunteers who returned from their service with injuries and illnesses. The most common illnesses and injuries amongst volunteers were found to be mental, emotional, and nervous conditions, dental conditions, infectious or parasitic diseases, and other non-classified diseases.
According to the Peace Corps’ Statistical Report of Crimes Against Volunteers 2014, volunteers reported 1,438 crimes during 2014, an overall incidence rate of 21.71 victimizations per 100 volunteers. In other words, one in five volunteers experienced some crime against them in 2014. The report found that there were 52 reports of stalking, 22 aggravated assaults, 22 rapes, and 27 aggravated sexual assaults, and that 72% of all reports were types of property crimes (thefts accounting for 43% of the overall total).
In that same timeframe, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) paid about $67 million to cover overseas contractors’ and sub-contractors’ insurance premium costs. This was done through the Defense Base Act, a federal workers’ compensation program available to workers injured working overseas for United States DoD contractors. This act is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act, which was enacted in 1921 to help the longshore industry’s injured workers.
Although USAID doesn’t track its total number of contractor employees for whom they provided this insurance, the agency’s insurer reported paying about $11.4 million to cover the medical costs of about 487 contractor employees who weren’t hurt as a result of war hazards. The insurer also said that it paid about $11.7 million for about 174 employees who were hurt as a result of war hazards.
In total, $23.1 million was paid to cover 661 employees. That’s a little more than half of what was paid by the Peace Corps to cover five times as many people.
At this time, the U.S. Government Accountability Office isn’t making any recommendations in regards to the other ways the Peace Corps can provide health benefits.