Recent Legal Actions Illustrate Importance of Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies

| posted in Newsletter

A California judge in May 2022 approved an $18 million settlement between video-game giant Activision Blizzard and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the federal agency accused the company of subjecting employees to severe sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination, and that it engaged in retaliation against employees who complained. A few months earlier Tesla was sued by six women, who described a culture of sexual harassment that included unwanted touching, catcalls and retaliation against those who complained. And recently 15 women interviewed by the Financial Times accused Apple Inc. of giving short shrift to their complaints of sexual harassment. While…
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The Story Behind Increasing Commercial Auto Rates

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Commercial auto insurance rates have been on the rise since 2011, increasing often by more than 10% a year as accidents and claims costs have soared. The trucking industry has been the hardest hit by the steep increases, and there are a number of factors contributing to the rate hikes, according to a recent study by Risk Placement Services. One of the biggest factors is that insurers have had trouble keeping up with increasing accidents and spiraling claims costs, leaving them in the red for most of the past decade. Huge court verdicts, higher maintenance expenses, reduced freight demand and…
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Push to Expand Telemedicine Parity Continues

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Telemedicine got a big boost during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now a number of states have been moving to ensure that health plan enrollees still have access to it and pay for it just as they would in-person visits. During the pandemic, insurers agreed to pay for virtual visits just as they would for a face-to-face appointment and lawmakers loosened federal regulations that for years had restricted telemedicine’s use. Meanwhile, doctors who had been reluctant to try new technology embraced it as a way to limit patient exposure. But more than two years into a public health emergency, some health…
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New Premium Threshold Set for X-Mod Qualification

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Employers whose annual premiums exceed $9,200 need to start paying closer attention to their workers’ compensation policies and safety practices. Under California’s workers’ compensation system rules, starting Sept. 1, if your firm’s premiums exceed this new threshold, it will be issued what’s known as an “X-Mod,” a numerical of your claims history. Your X-Mod is an important part of your coverage as it can dictate whether you pay lower or higher premiums based on your safety record compared to your peers in the same industry. Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara in late June approved a recommendation by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance…
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Time to Comply with Health Plan Transparency Rules

| posted in Newsletter

July 1 was the deadline for health plans to make public their in-network negotiated rates, out-of-network billed charges, and more. While health plans will be required to post this information, employers who sponsor their group health insurance for their employees will need to take steps to ensure that their plans comply with the law, if they have not already done so. The transparency rules taking effect were ushered in by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and rulemaking from the 2020 Transparency in Coverage Rules by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The rules require that non-grandfathered insured and…
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Many Employees Choosing the Wrong Health Plans

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A new study  has found that many people in employer-sponsored health plans are enrolling in plans that are costing them more than they ought to be paying. Many employees choose pricey plans with low deductibles, which force them to spend more up front on premiums to save just a few hundred dollars on their deductible. As result, many employees are spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more on their health care/health coverage than they need to. Study 1: The deductible angle A study by Benjamin Handel, a U.C. Berkeley economics professor, found that the majority of employees at one…
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Employers Focus on Cost Containment, Mental Health and Telemedicine

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A new survey has found that managing health care costs and expanding mental health benefits will be a top priority for U.S. employers as they ramp up benefits to compete for talent in the tight job market spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, virtual care is expected to become an essential and long-lasting feature of employers’ health insurance and employee benefits strategies over the next few years, according to the “2022 Emerging Trends in Healthcare Survey” by Wills Towers Watson. The focus on health care and insurance costs, mental health and expanded telehealth comes as employers continue pulling out all…
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Cal/OSHA: Protect Workers Against Heat Illness

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As we get closer to another scorching California summer, Cal/OSHA is reminding employers with outdoor workers to take precautions to protect them against the heat. California employers need to be especially mindful as Cal/OSHA has workplace safety regulations governing the prevention of heat illness and the agency actively enforces its heat illness prevention standard. Employers should also comply for the safety and well-being of their workers, as heat illness can be deadly. Cal/OSHA is urging employers to take the following steps to prevent heat-related illness among their employees who work outdoors: Plan — Develop and implement an effective written heat illness…
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Disability Insurance Can Protect Your Retirement Funds

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

Disability insurance can help keep your cash flow going should you be hit by a disabling event such as an injury or a sudden illness that prevents you from working. But besides protecting your income, disability insurance can also safeguard your retirement goals by giving you much-needed cash that may keep you from tapping your 401(k) for emergency funds. Having to withdraw funds from your 401(k) can be costly due to the lost prospects of investment income, as well as tax penalties that you’ll be hit with. Think you wouldn’t do that? One in four consumers said they would make…
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Dental and Vision Benefits Are Inexpensive, and a Big Hit with Workers

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

Employers nationwide are looking for ways to attract and retain talent and differentiate themselves from competing employers, and many are looking to the two most popular voluntary benefits: employee dental and vision plans. That’s important in today’s tight job market. After all, a recent survey from CareerBuilder found that 55% of workers believed an employer’s menu of benefits was more important than salary when considering a job position or offer. Here’s why dental and vision benefits are so popular and why, if you don’t already do so, you should consider offering them as well. Background For many years, dental and vision plans were…
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