October 30, 2014

 

It's the All Treats No Tricks Cavalcade of Risk this week! Louise Norris is hosting over at Colorado Health Insurance Insider. You may recall that Louise just hosted Health Wonk Review too, whew - she's in demand!

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October 23, 2014

 

Louise Norris has posted the falling leaves edition of Health Wonk Review at Colorado Health Insurance Insider. It's a packed, pre-election edition covering a smorgasboard of topics, from open enrollment and the continuing saga of Obamacare to Ebola and prayer groups. Many thanks to Louise and Jay Norris for hosting.

Don't know about where you are, but here in New England, the "falling leaves" theme hits the mark. After a glorious foliage season, a multi-day deluge is taking its toll on the seasonal color. Driving in the wet, fallen leaves will be precarious today so take care!

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October 22, 2014

 

What's the verdict on Ebola and workers' comp? We've gathered a roundup of what industry leaders are saying on this topic, as well as broader insurance issues. While Ebola and workers comp claims might be a relatively negligible issue, the larger issue of protecting workers from infectious disease is always one worth considering. Plus, there are other ways that Ebola may impact the business environment in general and business insurance specifically: business travel, supply chain disruptions, business interruptions, liability, malpractice and new coverage options, to name a few considerations.

Workers at highest risk would be health care and humanitarian workers in the countries most directly affected, Here in the U.S., hospital staff, public health personnel, humanitarian workers and first responders would be on the front lines for any additional outbreaks. Other workers with potential exposure might include waste disposal workers, cleaning staff, morticians, laboratory researchers and scientists, airline workers and business travelers.

Before we look at some of the insurance and prevention considerations, a little perspective from Vox by way of a brief and compelling video.

But remember, when you scare people enough, facts don't always matter. Case in point: A Maine teacher who was placed on leave after visiting Dallas -- even though she had no contact whatsoever with anyone associated with the Ebola outbreak. Journalist Maryn McKenna logs more Ebola overreactions under the category of Ebolanoia on her blog "Further Adventures of Germ Girl." (Her articles on Ebola at Wired at worth following.)

Ebola, Workers Comp & Other Insurance Considerations

Christopher J. Boggs of Insurance Journal takes a nuts & bolts look at the two-part litmus test of compensability under workers comp and how Ebola claims would stack up in Is Ebola Compensable Under Workers' Compensation?

Dave DePaolo looks at Ebola & Work Comp and expresses concern about our capacity to handle an outbreak, noting that "If ever there was a situation where there should be no distinction between workers' compensation medical treatment and general health, the current Ebola situation is it. Delivery of medical care in workers' compensation is just fine for broken bones, even for something like black lung disease.
The way medical care in workers' compensation is delivered creates a real, and significant, national health problem when confronted with a potential pandemic like Ebola."

Katie Siegel of Risk & Insurance says that although risk to US health care workers remains low, an Ebola outbreak could pose a workers' comp risk to the industry: Ebola's Impact on the Health Care Industry

MARSH offers an overview of Six Types of Insurance Coverage That May Apply to Ebola, with workers' comp at the top of the list.

Dr. Steven N. Weisbart, CLU discusses the insurance industry ramifications of the spread of the Ebola virus, from life/health implications to property/casualty in Insurance Information Institute: Facts and Perspectives on the Ebola Pandemic .

Logan Payne of Lockton has issued a whitepaper, Ebola Outbreak: Risk Management and Insurance Considerations. He looks at the real impact on companies with operations in the affected areas: "...oil and gas operators, mining companies, and humanitarian aid organizations as well as those who rely on the raw materials or commodities in the area. The outbreak of Ebola has caused curfews to be enforced in countries like Liberia as well as voluntary evacuation of employees by many companies, causing work sites and retail locations to completely cease operation. Global supply chains have been disrupted as ports and borders are partially or completely closed, and companies across Western Africa have closed their doors. In general, many companies have seen an abrupt halt in productivity coupled with a rise in prices for many critical services in countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea."

Melissa Hillebrand of PropertyCasualty360 offers a list of what you may not know ib 30 Ebola facts that will make you cringe, plus 7 ways to manage the risk. She covers how how the Ebola virus impacts economies and supply chains, insurance issues including evacuation, exposures and policy exclusions, and what you and your companies can do to prevent and control Ebola risk.

Arthur D. Postal of Property Casualty 360 looks at what Ebola will mean for the P&C industry over the long term.

At Business Insurance, Douglas McLeod says that Ace excludes Ebola claims for some new and renewal general liability policies. Sarah Vesey discusses new insurance coverage options related to Ebola: Brokers launch business interruption cover for Ebola, other pandemics

Related: Ebola: Insurance's new way to deal with an outbreak and Businesses wrestle with insurance in Ebola's wake

Joe Palazzola of the Wall St Journal Lawblog explains why Ebola suits against Texas Hospital likely wouldn't be easy to win.

Thomas Benjamin Huggett of Littler looks at The Ebola Exposure: U.S. Workplace Considerations

Michael Oliver Eckard and Jean Kim of Ogletree Deakins discuss Emerging Concerns for Healthcare Facilities and Employers

General Information on Ebola

CDC: Ebola
Facts, FAQs, signs & symptoms, transmission, prevention, treatment, clinical guidance, updates & more

WHO: Ebola Virus Disease

Here's how you can (and can't) get Ebola

15 charts, maps, and photos that explain the Ebola outbreak

Worker Health & Safety

National Institutes on Health: Ebola Virus Disease: Information for U.S. Healthcare Workers

NYCOSH: Essential Information for Aircraft Cabin Cleaners and Cargo Handlers

NIH: Guidance for Safe Handling of Human Remains of Ebola Patients in U. S. Hospitals and Mortuaries

CDC: Health care workers: Could it be Ebola?

CDC: Detailed Hospital Checklist for Ebola Preparedness

MA Nursing Association- Ebola: Screening and Managing a Patient While Protecting Yourself

OSHA: Ebola

WHO: Ebola Virus Disease: Occupational Safety and Health - joint WHO/ILO briefing note for workers and employers

NYCOSH: Essential Information for Workers

Ebola Medical Waste Management

Travel health notices

Infectious Diseases Related To Travel

In closing, Josh Cable of EHS Today reminds us that risk is relative. He offers a gallery of Safety and Health Threats that Are Deadlier than Ebola


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October 15, 2014

 

Russell Hutchinson has posted the 219th edition of Cavalcade of Risk at moneyblog. Catch up on various risk-related issues, including reports from New Zealand. Russell is our ongoing global correspondent!

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October 10, 2014

 

California! Again!

Early this week, Oregon's Department of Consumer and Business Services published its biannual rankings of state workers' comp costs (by the way, did you know that "biannual" means both twice a year and once every two years? English is a funny language). Kudos to Jay Dotter and Mike Manley for once again separating the wheat from the chaff.

Since 2006, we've written about Oregon's rankings, as well as those of the actuarial consulting firm, Actuarial & Technical Solutions (ATS) and the National Foundation for Unemployment Compensation and Workers' Compensation (UWC) headquartered in Washington, DC. If you're so inclined, see our in depth 2006 report, our 2009 report highlighting Massachusetts and our 2010 report.

Following the Oregon release the blogosphere was quick to note that California, leapfrogging Connecticut and Alaska, had won the 2014 gold medal for most costly state in the nation. People, this was not a surprise.

We have been watching the Golden State's periodic workers' comp train wrecks since the late 1980s. Here's how things usually go.

1. Costs go through the roof
2. Vested interests run around with their hair on fire
3. Legislature enacts reforms
4. Costs drop precipitously (everyone takes credit)
5. Lawyers figure out how to outflank the reforms
5. Costs go through the roof
6. Repeat the process

This has happened at least three times in the last 20 years, most notably during the administration of the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, when annual costs exceeded $29 billion dollars (you read that right). After reform, costs dropped to around $14 billion. Everyone declared victory and left the field until the sky fell again.

Alex Swedlow and the California Workers' Compensation Institute have done a marvelous job tracking costs and, through solid research, shining a light on possible ways to lower costs going forward. Nonetheless, to say that California's workers' compensation costs are continually volatile seems indisputable.

A couple of other notes on the Oregon rankings:

1. Although lagging far behind California, Connecticut retains its place of honor at Number Two in the ranking. It's costs are 155% of the median costs for all states and the District of Columbia;

2. In addition to Connecticut, it's worth noting that four of the other six New England states, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island rank in the top 20;

3. And, you might ask, what about the sixth New England state, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the home of the bean and the cod. Well, it may be the proverbial broken record, but I'm proud to note that Massachusetts, our home state, at 48th most costly, holds the distinction (again) of being the least costly of any major manufacturing state. This has been the case for the last 15 years. Why other New England states, for that matter all other high cost states, don 't take a leaf from the Massachusetts book is beyond me.

I'm betting that California, the state, which, if it were a country would have the fifth highest GDP in the world, will continue its up and down roller coaster ride as time marches on. It's just too big with too many highly entrenched vested interests to do otherwise.

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October 10, 2014

 

Joe Paduda has posted this week's Health Wonk Review at Managed Care Matters. In keeping with the overall mission of HWR, he says that there's "lots of health policy stuff, all right here!"

While at Joe's blog, also check out his post on drug formularies . He makes the case that despite progress that payers and PBMs have made in curbing runaway opioid costs, new drug-related issues keep emerging (eg compounding) and tighter controls are needed.


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October 2, 2014

 

David Williams hosts this weeks Cavalcade of Risk #218 at Health Business Blog - check it out!

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October 2, 2014

 

OSHA Expands Mandatory Reporting Requirements to Encompass Individual Employee Hospitalizations, Amputations, and Eye Loss
Jason Markel, Hodgson Russ LLP:
"On September 11, 2014, OSHA adopted a final rule that significantly broadens the mandatory reporting requirements, resulting in an amended Section 1904.39 that becomes effective on January 1, 2015. The amended regulation will require employers not only to report deaths within eight hours as before; it also mandates that employers report to their local OSHA office, subject to limited exceptions, all in-patient hospitalizations of an employee, all amputations, and all eye loss incidents within 24 hours of the event. And, of course, these events must also be recorded on the employer's OSHA 300 log."

Related:
Changing Soon: OSHA Requirements for Reporting Fatalities and Severe Injuries

Biz groups 'alarmed' by new OSHA rules for workplace accidents

OSHA Will Put Workplace Safety Data Online as 'Nudge' to Employers

Other OSHA News

Top 10 OSHA violations in 2014

OSHA targets companies that punish employees for reporting injuries

OSHA's List of Severe Violators Grows by 23 Percent
There are currently 423 sites in the program. "Launched in 2010, OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program "concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations," in the words of the agency."

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