Employees’ Alcohol Use Costly to Employers

Alcohol problems affect all employers, with an average of 9 percent of U.S. workers drinking in ways that contribute to absenteeism, higher health care costs and lost productivity.

Employees in the hospitality,construction and wholesale industries,in particular, are significantly more likely to be dependent on or abuse alcohol, according to Workplace Screening & Brief Intervention: What Employers Can and Should Do About Excessive Alcohol Use, a report issued by Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems at The George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, D.C. Ensuring Solutions researchers found that men working in the hospitality and construction industries are approximately 50 percent more likely to have an alcohol related problem than female workers.

In wholesale trade, men are almost three times more likely to have an alcohol problem than women. In addition, more than 18 percent of young workers between the ages of 18 and 25 have an alcohol related problem,compared to 7 percent of workers 26 and workers 26 employees represented in older.

“Most are not dependent on alcohol,”said Eric Goplerud, Ph.D., director of Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems and lead researcher. “But they do use alcohol in ways that lead to short term safety problems and long term of Ensuring survey results have been used to develop a web based calculator that employers and providers can use to estimate the impact of alcohol to develop the potential cost savings to problems and through workplace screening and brief intervention.

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Visit www.alcoholcostcalculator.org

Alcohol Workplace Hazards
Alcohol Workplace Hazards
Backgroun Screening
Backgroun Screening

Experts Split on How Public Health Insurance Would Affect California

Experts Split on Public Health & California
Experts Split on Public Health & California

Although supporters of a government-run public health insurance option say the proposal could improve health care quality in California, others say the plan likely would have higher premium costs, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Proponents

Supporters say California’s relatively limited health insurance marketplace could benefit from greater competition. Although the state currently has five major insurers, Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente control about three-fifths of the state’s health insurance market, according to the American Medical Association.

Newly elected Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), former California insurance commissioner, said a more competitive health insurance marketplace could motivate insurers to improve their business practices so they do not lose members to the public plan.

Lucien Wulsin — a health care attorney and director of the Santa Monica-based Insure the Uninsured Project — said a government-run plan also could experiment with different incentive models and spur innovation in the health care system.

Other experts note that California has a large pool of residents who might seek coverage under the public plan. The state currently has 6.8 million uninsured residents and 2.7 million residents who purchase coverage on the individual insurance market.

Skeptics

Other analysts say relatively few Californians would seek coverage under a government-run plan because it might have higher premiums than private health plans.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts that fewer than one million Californians would join the public plan. The office said the option is likely to attract less healthy residents, who could drive up overall premium costs.

Continue reading Experts Split on How Public Health Insurance Would Affect California

What Does Healthcare Reform Mean to California’s Farmers & Ranchers?

Healthcare Bill Impacts Farmers & Ranchers
Healthcare Bill Impacts Farmers & Ranchers

Issue Date: November 11, 2009
By Bryan Little

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed historic legislation to reshape the way Americans access and pay for health care. The U.S. Senate is poised to take up the debate in the next few weeks, but will probably produce a bill substantially different from that which emerged from the House. The differences between those bills will require a committee drawn from both houses of Congress to work out a resolution acceptable to their colleagues before legislation proceeds to the president’s desk.

If Congress and the president can complete the task of health care reform, the medical landscape could be radically transformed for everyone who participates in the system: doctors, patients, employers, even medical malpractice attorneys. It’s a good time to take a step back and ask a simple question: How will this affect California farmers and ranchers?

The just-passed House bill is a substantial departure from our present system of financing and accessing health care. The bill would significantly change the relationships among farm and ranch employees and their employers. The House legislation requires all employers either to provide health care coverage or pay an 8 percent excise tax, which will finance benefits and a new insurance exchange to allow the uninsured to obtain insurance for themselves. Employers with payrolls less than $500,000 are exempt from the excise tax, which is phased in for employers with payrolls between $500,000 and $750,000.

The insurance exchange created by the House bill is intended to provide a competitive marketplace for individuals who don’t have employer-based insurance to get it. The House bill requires uninsured individuals and families to get insurance through the exchange; failure to do so would trigger a 2.5 percent tax for non-compliance, with hardship waivers. One of the providers available at the exchange will be a new “public option” health insurer to compete with private insurers. This has raised fears in many quarters that the “government-run health care plan” will enjoy the huge resources of the federal government and will, as a result, be able to drive the private insurers out of the market.
Continue reading What Does Healthcare Reform Mean to California’s Farmers & Ranchers?

CA DWC Amended HCO Regulations Approved

New Amendents Get Go Ahead
New Amendents Get Go Ahead

Sacramento, CA (CompNewsNetwork) – The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) has amended its regulations on health care organizations (HCOs) as another part of its 12-point plan to control medical costs in California’s workers’ compensation system.

The 12-point plan includes regulations recently enacted, regulations underway, and a set of proposals to be implemented in 2010. The revisions to the HCO regulations make HCOs more competitive with medical provider networks, providing a viable network option for workers’ compensation care. Studies have shown that network care is associated with lower costs for employers and better return to work outcomes for injured workers.
The final HCO regulations were filed with the secretary of state on Nov. 4, 2009 and become effective Jan. 1, 2010.  The revised regulations reduce HCO fees and eliminate duplicative HCO reporting requirements. The regulations, found in the California Code of Regulations, Title 8, sections 9771 through 9779.9, are authorized by Labor Code sections 133, 4600.3, 4600.5, 4600.7, 4603.5, and 5307.3.
The amendments include:
* The application for certification of an entity not licensed under the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act will be reduced from $20,000 to $2,500.
* The application for certification of an entity licensed under the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act will be reduced from $10,000 to $1,000.
* The recertification fee will be reduced from $10,000 to $1,000.
* The annual assessment fee will be reduced from $1.00 per enrollee to $250.00 for 0 to 1000 enrollees, $350 for 1001 to 5000 enrollees, and $500 for 5001 or more enrollees.
* The loan repayment surcharge in section 9779.5(a)(2) will be removed as the repayment period has now ended.
* The late payment fee in section 9779 will be repealed.
* Information collected by the Workers’ Compensation Information System (WCIS) will not be required to be resubmitted to DWC by HCOs.
The approved regulations, as filed with the secretary of state, can be found on the DWC Web site at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/DWCPropRegs/hco/HCO_Regulations.htm.

AgSafe provides educational and networking opportunities for the agricultural health, safety and human resources professionals

Your agricultural health & safety resource
Your agricultural health & safety resource

We recently had the pleasure to meet with the people from AgSafe at a “meet and greet” event hosted by Testa’s Bistro in Santa Maria.
If you are in the agricultural business this is an organization with which you need to become involved.

And their website is full of useful resources and links.

AgSafe is a nonprofit association comprised of individuals, organizations and businesses with the shared mission of preventing injuries, illness and fatalities among those working in agriculture.

AgSafe organizes and promotes educational activities, conferences, regional meetings, applied research, and the collection, interpretation and dissemination of agricultural health, safety and human resource information to enhance the effectiveness of the agricultural safety professional.

The organization offers both Individual and Company memberships.

Individual

Any person having direct and active interest in agricultural health, safety and human resources and who supports the purpose of AgSafe should join. Individual members will receive discounts to the AgSafe Annual Conference, the California Agricultural Safety Certificate Program and other AgSafe sponsored events as well as the AgSafe Membership Directory and Insight, the AgSafe newsletter.

Company
Any business who supports the purposes of AgSafe should be a company member. Company members and up to five representatives will be listed in the AgSafe Membership Directory. All employees of company members may receive discounts to the AgSafe Annual Conference, California Agricultural Safety Certificate Program, and other AgSafe sponsored events as well as the AgSafe Membership Directory and Insight, the AgSafe newsletter.

Medical Costs Have Grown Slower in California Than in Any Other State

The Sacramento Beepill_bill
By Micah Weinberg
Special to The Bee
Published: Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009

There is widespread agreement that if federal health care reform passes, making it work will depend in great part on getting a handle on spiraling medical costs that already consume nearly one of every five dollars spent in the United States.

California’s experiences and innovations provide “proof of concept” that properly implemented health reform can control costs, while improving the quality of medical care. This is particularly true in developing integrated systems for delivering health care, using health information technology wisely to reduce administrative inefficiencies and addressing environmental factors that lead to poor health outcomes.

The idea of our state as a model of anything other than civic dysfunction may sound strange. But medical costs have grown slower in California than in any other state, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Despite this fact, California families still struggle with rising premiums and out-of-pocket costs. According to the New America Foundation, premiums in California have grown seven times faster than median household income. Even being the very best, it turns out, is not nearly good enough.

Bringing down costs will not be easy. Covering all those who lack health insurance will be more expensive, not less, at first. Many of the ideas on which people can agree – such as using electronic records and focusing on prevention – will not bring down costs by themselves. And while medical malpractice reforms should certainly be part of any health care reform package, they will not single-handedly solve the cost problem.
Continue reading Medical Costs Have Grown Slower in California Than in Any Other State