This week in comp, December 22, 2016

This Week in Comp is Texas Mutual’s weekly digest of workers’ compensation news.

Regulatory Roundup, December 16, 2016

Regulatory Roundup is a weekly digest of workers’ compensation news from across the country.

Regulatory Roundup, December 9, 2016

Regulatory Roundup is Texas Mutual’s weekly digest of workers’ compensation news from across the country.

Regulatory Roundup, December 2, 2016

This week in comp is a weekly digest of workers’ compensation news from across the country.

Fraud

Construction firm underbids competitors by cheating workers’ comp system
auto-insurance-fraudA New York construction firm allegedly altered workers’ compensation forms to make it appear as if it was exempt from workers’ compensation coverage. The scheme allowed the company to underbid the next-highest competitor on a project by about one-third. Companies that commit premium fraud gain an unfair advantage over honest competitors…MORE

Fraud by any other name
An Ohio man used aliases to continue working while collecting workers’ compensation benefits. Investigators calls this type of scam double-dipping…MORE

Safety

What you need to know about OSHA’s new electronic reporting rule
The retaliation and drug testing components of OSHA’s electronic injury reporting rule went into effect on Dec. 1, 2016. Texas Mutual’s blog explains what employers need to know about the new rule…MORE

Oklahoma airport shooting likely case of workplace revenge
violenceA man who gunned down a Southwest Airlines employee outside of Oklahoma City’s airport likely did so in retaliation for having lost his own job with the airline last year. The tragedy underscores the importance of recognizing and responding to the signs of workplace violence…MORE

Texas logs first case of locally-acquired Zika
A Brownsville resident became the first person to contract the Zika virus from an infected mosquito in Texas. Until now, all of the state’s 250-plus cases of Zika have involved travel to areas that have experienced local Zika transmissionMORE

Cybersecurity

IDC predicts health care ransomware attacks to double by 2018

The average data breach costs $665,000.

Health care is a soft target when it comes to cyberattacks because the industry hasn’t invested in security technology to the extent that other industries have. Additionally, the increase in internet of things technology results in the convergence of mobile, social and sensors. The result could be a doubling of ransomware attacks against health care institutions by 2018, according to IDC Futurescape…MORE

Claims

Free tool gives context to medical costs
The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute has rolled out a new tool that helps stakeholders understand increasing costs for treating injured workers. The tool details medical prices in 31 states, allowing stakeholders to compare pricing, see how policy choices affect pricing, and determine whether fluctuations are local or consistent with national trends… MORE

 

 

This week in comp, November 18, 2016

This week in comp is a weekly digest of workers’ compensation news.

Safety

OSHA issues final rule on walking/working surfaces, fall protection

OSHA estimates its new walking/working surfaces rule will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 lost-workday injuries each year.

OSHA estimates its new walking/working surfaces rule will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 lost-workday injuries each year.

In 1990, OSHA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking for its walking/working surfaces standard. This week, the agency issued the final version of the rule. The new rule goes into effect Jan. 17, 2017…MORE

What you need to know about OSHA’s electronic reporting rule
On Dec. 1, 2016, the anti-retaliation component of OSHA’s electronic reporting rule goes into effect. This week’s blog post explained what the rule means to employers…MORE

The proof is in the post
If posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels are any indication, the public recognizes the potential life-saving benefits of driver-assist technology. An analysis of 50,000 social media posts showed a 21 percent increase in posts about advanced driver assistance systems and vehicle safety technologies. The analysis also showed a 27 percent increase in positive conversations since the launch of the MyCarDoesWhat? website…MORE

West Texas companies earn Texas Mutual’s top safety honor

Click on the image for a full-sized photo of our West Texas safety award winners.

Approximately 200 of Texas Mutual’s 65,000 policyholders earned the company’s top safety award in 2016.

The downturn in the oil and gas market has forced companies to make tough budget decisions. For the 22 West Texas winners of Texas Mutual’s annual safety award, preventing workplace accidents is a priority. Texas Mutual recognized these companies at a special event this week…MORE

Underwriting

Monster classification mistake puts puppeteers on brink of bankruptcy
A New York puppet manufacturer’s workers’ comp premium skyrocketed from $3,500 to $50,000, thanks to a classification code error. The puppeteers, who deal mostly in fur and fuzz, were stamped rubber goods manufacturers and put in the same risky category as tire manufacturers, which melt molten rubber…MORE

Fraud

Woman who stole from mother guilty of workers’ comp fraud
A woman who stole her disabled mother’s workers’ compensation benefits to support her drug habit must pay $26,170 in restitution to her mother and the insurance carrier…MORE

Texas pharmacist pleads guilty to fraud

A Texas pharmacist faces up to five years in federal prison for his role in a fraud scheme.

A Texas pharmacist faces up to five years in federal prison for his role in a fraud scheme.

A Houston pharmacy owner pleaded guilty in a health care fraud and kickback scheme. The pharmacist admitted to paying about $5.3 million in illegal kickbacks to a Killeen chiropractor in exchange for patient referrals for prescriptions and influencing physicians to prescribe compounded medications supplied by her pharmacy…MORE

Claims

NCCI releases latest report on impacts of ACA on workers’ compensation
A reduction in the U.S. obesity rate from 35 to 25 percent, in accordance with the goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) wellness initiative, could reduce workers’ compensation medical costs by 3 to 4 percent, according to a study by the National Council on Compensation Insurance. The study also showed the ACA has not discernibly infringed on workers’ compensation claimants’ access to primary care…MORE

This week in comp, November 11, 2016

This week in comp is a weekly digest of workers’ compensation news from around the country.

Safety

Injuries requiring days away from work drop

Carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis accounted for the fewest cases involving days away from work.

Carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis accounted for the fewest cases involving days away from work.

The number of Texas workplace injuries involving days away from work fell from 52,970 in 2014 to 46,440 in 2015, according to a TDI report. Injured employees in the information industry recorded the highest number of median days away from work at 22…MORE

Get in rhythm with the time change
Last Sunday, Americans set their clocks back one hour in an annual ritual known as fall back. The extra hour of sleep that night was a nice perk, but the time change also increases the risk of a pervasive, chronic safety issue: traffic accidents…MORE

4 reasons employers should have a driver safety program
Traffic accidents costs employers $60 billion and three million work days each year. Considering the human and monetary costs of accidents, employers cannot afford to pass on the National Safety Council’s free driver safety program resources…MORE

Wellness

Ready your workplace for the flu
The flu costs employers 111 million work days and $7 billion in sick days and lost productivity each year. OSHA offers free resources to help employers reduce the flu’s impact on their employees and their bottom line…MORE

austin-mhml-lockup

A workplace wellness program can help reduce heart disease and other chronic health issues.

Wake-up call leads CEO to American Heart Association
Sometimes, a major health issue hits close to home and motivates us to make changes in our lives. That’s what happened to Texas Mutual President and CEO Rich Gergasko when he found out a co-worker died from a heart attack…MORE

Claims

Injured TX employees have ready access to medical care, study shows
In 2015, 84 percent of injured workers in Texas received initial care in seven days or less, compared to 76 percent in 2000. That is significant because studies show injured workers who aren’t treated within seven days accumulate an average of 40 percent more in medical costs over the first six months of an injury, according to a new study by the Workers’ Compensation Research and Evaluation Group…MORE

Social media: Good and bad for insurers, claims
Sometimes, claimants have a positive experience with an insurer and tell their friends about it on Facebook. That’s valuable word-of-mouth advertising money can’t buy. But social media can also hinder claim and lawsuit settlements…MORE

Underwriting

Workers’ compensation rates in Texas among nation’s lowest
Thanks largely to lower injury rates, better return-to-work outcomes and reduced medical costs, Texas employers pay the 10th-lowest workers’ compensation rates in the country, according to a study by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services…MORE

NCCI releases 2016 workers’ comp issues report

Agents can bookmark Texas Mutual's website for the latest NCCI developments.

Agents can bookmark Texas Mutual’s website for the latest NCCI developments.

For every $100 of medical services paid on claims older than 10 years, approximately $45 to $50 will be for prescription drugs, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance Workers’ Compensation 2016 Issues Report…MORE

Opioids

New York rolls out administrative option for curbing opioid epidemic
In New York, payers can now request a hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Board to determine whether continuing opioid usage is necessary or weaning from opioids is recommended…MORE

Fraud

Employer gets six months in jail for fraud scheme
An Ohio court sentenced the owner of a tree-trimming service to six months in jail for bilking his workers’ comp insurer out of $22,000 in premiums…MORE

This week in comp, November 4, 2016

This week in comp is a weekly digest of workers’ compensation news from around the country.

Safety

OSHA plans surge of inspections to reduce amputations in Texas, neighboring states

Employers can follow a few simple tips to prepare for an OSHA inspection.

Employers can follow 10 tips to prepare for an OSHA inspection.

OSHA will leverage targeted enforcement, including a surge of on-site inspections, in its efforts to reduce amputations among manufacturing workers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas…MORE

Texas leads nation in vehicle/animal collisions
Texas has twice as many motorists killed in collisions between vehicles and animals than any other state, the Insurance Council of Texas reports. With deer hunting season kicking off this weekend, drivers should review these safety tips…MORE

Opioid epidemic

Opioids and workers’ compensation: Why employers should care
Employees who abuse opioids risk their lives and compromise their co-workers’ safety. They could also contribute to increased workers’ compensation premiums. Studies cited in a Lockton Companies whitepaper have shown that when injured workers are prescribed opioids, their total claim costs can be four to eight times those of similar claims where no opioids were prescribed…MORE

More children are being poisoned by prescription opioids
The rate of children hospitalized for opioid poisoning increased 165 percent from 1997 to 2012, according to a new study. The data also showed the rate of hospitalized toddlers more than doubled. It’s likely that these very young patients take the drugs because they think they are candy or a treat…MORE

Fraud

Dallas-area doctor faces $1.2M fine in fraud scheme
Government officials have obtained a more than $1.2 million judgment against Dr. Tariq Mahmood of Cedar Hill. Mahmood is serving an 11-year sentence for submitting bogus Medicare and Medicaid claims…MORE

Underwriting

NCCI updates

Agents can bookmark Texas Mutual's website for the latest NCCI developments.

Texas Mutual encourages agents to bookmark our website for the latest NCCI developments.

TDI has posted notice of filing Item 02-TX-2016 by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). NCCI’s filing proposes to establish eligibility requirements for wrap-up construction project policies. TDI also posted an order approving NCCI filing Item B-1431 to eliminate some Texas classifications with low credibility (classification codes that, due to low premium volume, are too small to develop meaningful data for ratemaking purposes) and reassign them to other national or Texas classifications.

Claims

Workers’ comp drug spend dips
Workers’ compensation payers’ pharmacy spend dipped 8.7 percent in 2015, according to a CompPharma survey. Payers credited tighter clinical management, better integration with their pharmacy benefit managers, and prescriber interventions for the decrease. Opioids remained the number-one payer concern…MORE

The best of the rest

What’s really happening in workers’ comp?
Injury rates are plummeting, insurance premium rates are flat or dropping, and medical costs are down, reports Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters. Paduda adds that Texas and Louisiana experienced among the largest rate drops in the country…MORE

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