WorkComp Advisory
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Things you should know:

Workers more aligned with employers and are paying more attention to health care costs
The Washington-based National Business Group on Health surveyed
1,500 workers at large firms in March 2009. According to a press release, 52% of those surveyed said living a healthy lifestyle is a greater priority than it was last year, 34% exercise more, and 43% said they are making healthier food choices.

Nearly all workers report reviewing their health plan options during their last annual enrollment period and about one in four changed health plans as a result. One out of every five workers reported not taking prescription medication – and 27% reported forgoing treatment – because of concerns about co-payment costs. "These data confirm that the widespread economic anxiety is cascading onto individual workers' health and well-being," said National Business Group on Health President Helen Darling. "At the same time, the data also show that workers are more aligned with businesses about cost concerns and that individuals are taking demonstrable steps to improve their own personal health. For workers, businesses, and policymakers, this environment presents a 'teachable moment' to inculcate a renewed culture of health, including making healthier food choices and increased exercise."

Workers’ Comp claims also billed Group Health plan
The results of a study by OCI, a provider of risk management and employee benefit analytical services in California, presented to the Fraud Assessment Commission in June 2009 included:
  • 4.2% of workers’ comp claims at the company had a duplicate health care claim.
  • Over half of the duplicate claims filed received payment.
  • The employer paid over $1.2 million in duplicate payments
  • One-third of the duplicate claims filed were paid more than what was billed.
  • The employer paid over $100,000 in overpayments on duplicate claims.
Employers should take steps to ensure that billing for Workers’ Comp and health care are integrated, by contacting the appropriate parties (WC, Group Health and legal advisors) to determine how possible duplicate claim payments can be prevented.

Driver distraction in commercial vehicle operations
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in Blacksburg, VA studied 100 commercial motor vehicle drivers and found that distraction was a factor in 78% of the crashes and 65% of all near crashes. When taking their eyes off the road for more than two seconds, drivers were 2.9 times more likely to be involved in a critical safety issue. Texting, cleaning a side mirror, reaching for objects and interacting with the dispatch device had the greatest impact.

Medicare as Secondary Payer- Section 111 Regulations
One of the hottest topics in Workers' Compensation is the impact of Medicare on Workers' Compensation settlements and the new reporting requirements of Section 111. When a Workers' Compensation claim is settled and certain thresholds are met, consideration of the Medicare Secondary Payer Statute is required. The federal government is intensifying its efforts to make sure that all other benefit programs are paying their share of medical costs. Medicare Section 111 new reporting requirements for insurance carriers, self-insured employers and any employer in a captive insurance product require Medicare notification for all bodily injury claims (including Workers’ Compensation, general liability BI, auto bodily injury, product liability bodily injury and property medical payment claims). The failure to report can result in the denial of future Medicare payments to the claimant, as well as significant penalties.

Biking, walking to work may reduce heart disease risk factors: study
According to a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill walking or riding a bicycle to work is likely to improve overall health and reduce risk factors for heart disease.

The study surveyed 2,364 adults on their commute to work. Respondents who actively commuted to work (16.7 percent) were less likely to be overweight and were found to have healthier triglyceride levels, insulin levels and blood pressure – major factors in the development of heart disease.

In a press release, study authors called for policies that encourage active commuting, stating, "increasing active commuting will have the dual benefits of increasing population health and [reducing] greenhouse gas emissions."