Workers’ Comp COVID-19 Payroll Reporting Rules Sunsetting

| posted in Blog

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau has announced that two temporary payroll reporting rules to reflect changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders will sunset. The move comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s June 9 executive order which revoked the statewide stay-at-home order that had been in place since March 19, 2020. You may recall that after the stay-at-home order took effect, the Rating Bureau issued new rules for classifying staff who were suddenly working remotely, as well as payroll reporting for staff who were at home but not working. The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) rules that are set…
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Disaster Recovery Checklist for Business Owners and Executives

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If a natural disaster were to strike, would your company be ready? Has your management team hardened the business to continue operating in case of a disaster? With natural catastrophes growing in number and severity, businesses more than ever need to have in place plans for a quick recovery for the sake of their investors, customers, employees and vendors. Here are some basic tips to ensure the survival of a small business in the event of a disaster: Create a written disaster preparation and recovery plan. This document should be in hard copy in your office and e-mailed to all…
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Few Plan Enrollees Seem Aware of Price Transparency Rules

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Despite a new law requiring hospitals to post detailed pricing information for their treatments and procedures online, fewer than 10% of U.S. adults are aware of the requirement. That’s a problem considering that a growing number of Americans have high-deductible health plans, which come with up-front lower premiums but with higher out-of-pocket expenses. One of the driving forces behind HDHPs is that they give the enrollee more “skin in the game,” by incentivizing them to shop around for care since they will have to pay for it themselves up to their deductible. But if people are not aware they can…
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CMS Issues New Rules Barring Surprising Billing

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service in late June released a series of new regulations targeted at banning surprise billing in most instances, taking aim at a scourge that ends up costing many covered individuals thousands of dollars even when they are treated in-network. The goal of the rule, slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2022, is to ensure that health plan enrollees are not gouged for out-of-network billing and balance billing for most services unless divulged to the beneficiary and approved by them in advance. Balance billing ― when a medical provider bills a covered individual for the…
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Cal/OSHA Relaxes COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

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CAL/OSHA last November issued COVID-19 emergency temporary standards, and now the agency has revised those standards to reflect the reduced risk of infection as more people get vaccinated. The revisions provide respite to many businesses ahead of the planned reopening of the state on June 15. Here are the more significant changes in the rules: Exemptions for the vaccinated The revised rules provide significant exemptions to COVID-19 prevention rules for workers who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, as well as for workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days and have recovered or are…
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New Changes to X-Mods, Classification Rules for Multiple Location Employers

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California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has approved a regulatory filing that will change the premium threshold for employers to qualify for an experience modifier (X-Mod). The approval was part of a larger regulatory filing the Workers’ Compensation Rating Bureau made to also change expected claims costs, eliminate a few class codes and make new rules for companies that operate multiple enterprises. The newly approved filing also updates expected claims cost rates for all of the state’s more than 500 worker class codes that are used to calculate workers’ comp rates. Here’s a rundown of the changes: X-Mod change Currently, the…
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Second CalSavers Deadline Fast Approaching

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The deadline is fast approaching for employers with 50 or more staff in California, and who do not already offer their employees a retirement plan, to register for the CalSavers Retirement Savings Program. As of April 7, more than 10,000 employers had already registered for the program, which will allow employees to set aside a set amount pre-tax from their paychecks into the state-run retirement plan. Only California employers that do not offer retirement plans are required to register for CalSavers and there are different registration deadlines depending on employer size, staggered over a few years as follows: Employers with…
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Pandemic Brings Voluntary Benefits to Fore

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One major repercussion of the COVID-19 pandemic is that employees are embracing the voluntary benefits their employers are offering them, but they’d like to see more choices and issues such as mental health and voluntary benefits have risen to the fore. The Hartford’s “2021 Future of Benefits Study” found that before the pandemic, benefits were mainly viewed as a means of attracting and retaining talent. But the pandemic changed all that due to the stress of having our work and personal lives upended, as well as the widespread suffering and grief that the coronavirus has caused. The most significant shift…
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How a New Law Affects Group Health Plans & Cost Transparency

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The newly enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 contains a number of provisions that will affect group health plans, with most changes aimed at helping insured workers with flexible spending accounts (FSAs), cost transparency and surprise billing. Some of the provisions are permanent while others are temporary, slated to run through the anticipated end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights of The Consolidated Appropriations Act FSA carryover rules loosened The new law authorizes employers to amend their cafeteria plans and FSAs to either: Allow participating staff to carry over unused amounts from the 2020 plan year to the 2021 plan year (and…
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Commissioner Rejects COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Surcharge

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

When California’s insurance commissioner in December ordered that the workers’ compensation benchmark rate for this year be cut 4.6% on average, he also rejected a recommendation that all policies be subject to a COVID-19 workers comp surcharge. When the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau made its rate filing for 2021, it also recommended that all policies in the state be subject to a COVID-19 workers comp surcharge that ranged from 1 cent per $100 of payroll for the least risky professions to 26 cents per $100 of payroll for the riskiest (such as health care workers). The Rating Bureau had…
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