October 26, 2005

News roundup: Premium rates, ADA, disability awareness, OHIO privatization, and more

RIMS Benchmark Survey: downturn in commercial rates
Commercial insurance renewal premiums in the third quarter were down by more than 5% from rates in the same quarter last year, although the survey notes that workers comp was the only major line to drop by less than 5%, with an average reduction of 3.75%. However, for many respondents, the effects of hurricane season hadn't yet been factored into prices.

ADA protects persons "associated with" the disabled
Diane Pfadenhauer discusses a less widely recognized provision of the Americans With Disabilities Act that extends legal protections to those individuals who are associated with a disabled person.

October is Disability Awareness Month
According to the Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM), there are 33 million people in the United States with disabilities and the unemployment rate for this population is 44%. SHRM notes that many employers fear high costs associated with making accommodations for workers with disabilities, but 38% of employers have not had to spend any money on accommodations and an additional 17% have spent less than $500.

For a whole different outlook on disability, you may want to see a film called Murderball about a team of quadriplegic rugby players. Some time back, Larry King featured a very compelling interview with a few of the charismatic team members - what an inspiration!

Ohio: many oppose privatization of workers comp
Despite the recent investment scandals, it seems that many employers, attorneys, and unions are unified in opposition to the idea of privatizing the state workers' compensation system. Ohio is one of a diminishing number of monopolistic states. The current Bureau of Workers Compensation system was established in 1995 with a nine-member Workers' Compensation Oversight Commission. Since then, it has been credited with speeding up claims and reducing premiums by an average of more than 30%.

The Best-laid Disaster Plans Are Merely Works in Progress
Workforce features an article offering an overview of problems and issues that HR departments faced in the aftermath of the Katrina disaster. The article profiles the experiences of three large employers - Entergy, Sodexho USA, and McDonalds - and some of the creative problem-solving that was required to locate and retain workers, communicate with workers despite the collapse of the communication infrastructure, arrange payments and administer benefit programs, and assist workers and their families in resolving various psycho-social issues.

12 picks for America's Safest Companies of 2005
Occupational Hazards recognizes a dozen companies that set their own standards for safety excellence, exceeding OSHA and EPA regulations and industry norms. Safety efforts in these companies were generally characterized by high employee involvement and superior management commitment.

Insider View of the Vioxx trials in NJ
Robert Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams from Law.com's arsenal of law bloggers offer first hand accounts from inside the courtroom at the VIOXX trial underway in New Jersey.

Also. from Legal Talk Network's Workers Comp Matters:
Latex allergies in the workplace with Sandra Jutras, a career clinical nurse who developed a serious level one latex allergy; Attorney Jim Brady, and Dr. Gail Lenehan, national advocate and member of the Massachusetts Nurses Association's Congress on Occupational Health and Safety.
Medicare set-aside allocations - Jean Feldman of CHOICE Medical Management discusses the complex issue of workers compensation Medicare set-aside allocations.

Making a difference
We can all sometimes get bogged down in the status quo and wonder if it's still worth it to try to effect a change. It's good to be reminded how one person can make an enormous difference - rest in peace, Rosa Parks. The LA Times has a wonderful tribute to this remarkable woman. (free registration required)



Although, I am not an expert on the Ohio Workers' Compensation system, it may be time to pay attention to the "dog that is not barking."

When labor unions, the business community, and attorneys are all on the same side protecting the status quo, I get suspicious.

Ohio is famous for their Safety Groups that offer discounts to employers of up to 93%. However, I am told that the employers in those deeply discounted groups are not carrying their own weight. I understand that the groups pooled money is not enough to cover the groups claims. If that is true, then Ohio employers that are not in the groups are subsidizing those who are.

If I was getting someone else to subsidize my cost, I would not want the system to change either.

What do employers say that are not in the Safety Groups? Do they know what is going on? Do they know who benefits if the system stays the same?

Then again, as Dennis Miller would say, "I could be wrong."

Hmmm, state government providing a work comp disability system which is favored by business, injured workers and their attorneys ?

This is against our preconceived notions that the free enterprise system is absolutely better at everything, over that of a state government program.

I guess the proof may be in the lower premium rates, with benefit payments which approximate private insurer programs in other states. It's interesting that different programs are effective in different states.

Maybe one work comp program, "does not fit all" !
From my point of view, in PA the private insurance system works well, in many respects. Of course there is always room for improvement.

Maybe we should look at why premiums are lower in Ohio. Are those ideas which are present or absent in private insurance systems? Any Ohio people out there ?


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This page contains a single entry by Julie Ferguson published on October 26, 2005 4:50 AM.

Attention Shoppers: Walmart is Expanding Health Care options for Workers was the previous entry in this blog.

Walmart: A Modest Proposal is the next entry in this blog.

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