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Managing Opiod Use in Workers Compensation Claims

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Employees typically have peace of mind that while a workplace injury may cause pain or disrupt their lives, they’ll be treated as quickly and effectively as possible through their employers’ workers’ compensation programs. Employees also know they’ll have treatment options that best fit their conditions and medical needs. One potential treatment, however, presents unique challenges for employers: opioids.1

Every day, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids.2 The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.3.

The Rise of Opioids in Workers’ Comp

Doctors and nurses must ask patients to rate their pain on a scale of one to 10, and treat it accordingly. That subjectivity, in part, has given rise to the over-prescription of opioids. “Historically, opioids were used appropriately to alleviate pain associated with cancer and similar severe pain conditions. Over time, physicians prescribed opioids for far less severe pain conditions. The resulting rise in availability has also contributed to the current epidemic in the United States,” said Maureen McCarthy, SVP and Manager, Workers’ Comp Field Claims, Liberty Mutual Insurance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that nearly half of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involve prescription opioids – in 2015, there were 15,000 prescription-related opioid deaths1.

Its impact is also being felt in the workers’ comp space. Seventy percent of injured workers take some form of an opioid painkiller – and workers’ comp claims involving opioids cost, on average, $20,000 more than claims without.1

Employers’ Proactive Approach

So what can employers do to address this exposure? The key points are to have a Drug Free Workplace Program and to work with healthcare benefits providers and worker’s compensation carriers.

Drug Free Workplace Programs are cost-effective programs that can help address drug impairment in the workplace. Effective programs should consist of these 5 components:

  1. A clear, written policy. The program can also include a prescription drug workplace policy. (Consult with your company’s legal team to ensure all federal and state-specific guidelines are reflected in your policy).
  2. Employee education including (but not limited to) employee training that address topics such as being informed at the point of prescribing (are there non-opioid prescriptions that can be used?) and how opioid medication may affect their work.
  3. Supervisor training. With the changes in drug use over the past several years, it is important for managers to be current on their workplace policy for prescription drug use, understanding potential signs of impairment, and the updated process and scope of drug testing.
  4. An employee assistance program. It is in the employer’s best interest to identify opioid abuse and to support confidential access to treatment.
  5. Drug testing. Drug tests can be perceived as being highly intrusive, but they can be invaluable tools for preventing drug-related incidents and reducing risk.

Company healthcare benefits providers and worker’s compensation carriers are critical to employee safety and prevention programs for prescription opioid use. Working closely with these important partners helps employers understand the extent of opioid use and the need for programs to prevent and manage opioid use. Find out what your provider’s/carrier’s program of opioid management is and whether they utilize Prescription Benefit Manager’s (PBMs) technology to identify “flags” when prescription medicine abuse or misuse is occurring.

The prescription opioid epidemic – overprescribing, misuse, abuse, and overdose – is impacting the workplace. Evidence demonstrates serious risk to employees and substantial costs for employers.4 But there are proactive steps that can be taken to try and prevent your employees from becoming a statistic.

  1. Risk Insurance – Treating Injuries without Employer Pain: Managing the Challenges of Opioids and Marijuana (July 2017) http://riskandinsurance.com/treating-injuries-without-employer-pain-managing-challenges-opioids-marijuana/
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse – Addressing America’s Fentanyl Crisis (April 2017)
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse – “All Scientific Hands on Deck” to End the Opioid Crisis (May 2017)
  4. National Safety Council – The Proactive role employers can take: Opioids in the workplace – http://www.nsc.org/RxDrugOverdoseDocuments/proactive-role-employers-can-take-opioids-in-the-workplace.pdf
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Medicare Enrollment Period Offers a Great Opportunity for Financial Planning

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Do you have Medicare? Then mark your calendars, because the fall enrollment period is about to begin. This year, the open enrollment period starts on October 15th and ends on December 7th. Miss that deadline, and you could be facing a penalty. What should you do if you have Medicare? Review your current plan and decide if you want to change your provider or your coverage. And even if you’re happy with your current plans, you should still review all your available options to ensure you’re getting the best value. After all, some experts say average healthcare costs will be about $220,000 during retirement, so a little planning now can save you a lot in the future.

Unless you’re an accountant or a personal finance wonk, it’s a pretty good bet you’re not exactly looking forward to delving into the nitty-gritty details of Medicare. But hey – since you’re already in “financial review mode,” why not take advantage of that mindset to do a little more financial planning to make sure your finances are in good order? A little planning now can help with taxes, help avoid Medicare-related penalties, and provide you with some much-needed peace of mind to face the holiday season and start the new year. Here are four steps to take now:

  • Focus on your required minimum distributions (RMDs): If you have a 401K or IRA, you’ll probably need to start taking distributions by the time you reach age 70 ½ years of age (if you’re still working at that time, the rules can be different). At some income levels, the RMD might bump you into a higher tax bracket. Now is a good time to plan tax-friendly strategies that can help you keep as much of your hard-earned money as possible. Talking with a financial planner is the best way to minimize your tax burden without incurring RMD penalties.
  • Review your beneficiaries: Make sure your will, IRA, and other accounts have the proper beneficiaries listed, and crosscheck all your documents to avoid potential discrepancies. Births, deaths, divorces, and other life events can have an impact on your financial planning, and it can be easy to overlook a change in beneficiaries. Reviewing documents on a routine basis is important to ensure your documents reflect your true wishes.
  • Plan for windfalls: If you plan to sell a home or business, the revenue can have a major impact on your tax bill, and you could wind up triggering a Medicare surtax normally reserved for high earners. The same is true if you withdraw a large sum from your retirement savings to fund an expensive purchase like a family trip. Again, working with a financial planner or CPA can help you minimize your tax burden by recharacterizing your income and gifting some of your assets.
  • Think about long-term care needs: Long-term care can cost tens of thousands of dollars each year. Planning for those needs now is important to ensure you receive the care you need when you need it. Annuities can be a great investment tool for long-term care planning. Ask your Basi agent about annuity products that suit your own planning needs.

One more tip: The end of the year is also a good time to review your insurance needs. At Basi Insurance, our agents are ready to help you make important financial decisions that can help you enjoy your retirement years. To learn more about annuities and other insurance products, call Basi Insurance at 877-590-4826.

Almond Harvest Time Is Here: It’s a Great Time to Review Your Crop Insurance

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Actor and humorist Will Rogers once said, “The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.” It’s true, farming can seem like a gamble that depends a lot on the weather, consumer tastes, and other variables. With your family’s livelihood at stake, it just makes sense to take a few extra – and very important – steps to protect your crops, your equipment, and your financial future. That’s where crop insurance comes in. At Basi Insurance Services, we work closely with growers throughout the Oakdale, California, region to create policies that cover their specific needs, no matter how unique or complex they may be. With almond harvest season just around the corner, now’s a great time to review your policy.

What does crop insurance cover?

Crop insurance is designed to provide full coverage protection for agricultural businesses, and depending on your operation and your needs, several policy types are available, including:

  • Whole farm revenue protection: This crop insurance plan provides a safety net for all your crops and commodities, making it an ideal choice for growers with multiple types of crops, including specialty crops. Whole farm revenue protection policies protects against a loss of earnings as well as a loss of anticipated earnings that wind up being lost due to crop damage or other disasters. Plus, if you grow or produce two or more types of crops or commodities, you may qualify for a subsidy equal to as much as 80% of your premiums, making this an especially affordable type of crop insurance.
  • Actual production history (APH): APH insurance has been around for a long time – in fact, it’s the oldest type of federal crop insurance plan available today. APH policies policies guarantee a yield based on your production history, and they provide protection against production losses due to virtually every type of unavoidable, natural event.
  • Actual revenue history (ARH): ARH policies are based on your revenue history. Losses occur when the current year’s revenue falls below the guaranteed revenue under the policy. Right now, ARH policies are only available for cherry growers.

Whether your specialty is almond crops, vegetables, livestock, or another crop or product, our agents can help you find a policy that’s ideal for your needs.

Have your crop insurance policy reviewed today.

Just as your crop and income can change from year to year, so can your insurance needs. That means to stay protected against devastating financial losses, you need to have your crop insurance reviewed every year to make sure you have the right type and right amount of insurance based on your evolving needs and financial goals. Having your policy reviewed is simple: Just call our office at 877-590-4826 and one of our representatives will be happy to help you.

5 Pool Safety Tips for a More Relaxing Summer

There’s nothing quite so relaxing and refreshing on a hot summer day as a nice, long dip in the pool, especially when that pool is just a few short steps from the back door. Still, as nice as it can be to have a swimming pool in your own back yard, it’s not without risks. And knowing a few simple pool safety tips can make that after-work dip all the more relaxing.

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Pool Safety Tip #1: Set some rules, especially for kids. Pool decks are slippery, no matter what they’re made of. Make sure kids (and adults) know running and horseplay is not allowed – no pushing people into the pool and no dunking. Backyard diving boards aren’t a good idea either. And never let a child swim alone.

Pool Safety Tip #2: Know the codes. Most municipalities have codes regarding swimming pools, including the erection of fencing of a specific height to keep young kids and pets from falling in and drowning. Make sure your pool meets local codes to avoid both fines and accidents. Even if your municipality doesn’t require a fence, it’s still a good idea. Make sure it has locks or other features that prevent pets and kids from wandering in. Some gates even come with alarms.

Pool Safety Tip #3: Check your insurance. While a standard homeowner’s policy offers some liability protection, if you have a pool, you might want to increase your coverage or even add an umbrella policy. It’s a surprisingly affordable way to make sure you have plenty of protection if an accident does occur.

Pool Safety Tip #4: Skip the extension cords. Stringing a long cord all the way from the side of your home to your pool filter is just asking for trouble. Why? It’s a tripping hazard (not to mention a possible code violation and electrical hazard to boot). Instead, have an electrician run electricity to the pump so you can plug in nearby. And make sure the outlet is grounded and protected from water and prying fingers.

Pool Safety Tip #5: Watch the chemicals. No one wants to float around in a pool full of green algae, but going overboard with the chemicals can cause eye irritation and even burns. If you must “shock” your pool with a large dose of chlorine or other chemicals, keep people out of the water until the levels “adjust” themselves so there’s no risk of irritation.

Pools and summer just go together, and they’re a great way to spend lots of relaxing, quality time with family and friends. Using a little common sense and following a few simple pool safety rules means you can focus more on fun and less on worry.

Protect Outdoor Workers With These 6 Safety Tips

Summer is here, and for plenty of people, that means lots of opportunities for enjoying the beautiful San Joaquin Valley and the surrounding natural areas. But if you have to be outside working day after day, that gorgeous sunshine can be a major safety risk, exposing workers to heat exhaustion and even life-threatening heat stroke.

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If your business has outdoor workers, here are some safety tips you can follow to keep them safe:

  • Know the signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke is the most dangerous of the heat-related illnesses, and it can cause unconsciousness, permanent disability and death very rapidly. The most common signs of heat stroke are hot, dry skin, lack of perspiration, nausea and vomiting, throbbing headache, dizziness and confusion, and you don’t have to show all of these symptoms to be in trouble. If a worker exhibits any of these signs, place them in shady area and cool them down with a hose, cool compresses or a tub of cool water and call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Keep lots of cool water on hand. Workers should drink from 2-4 cups of water every hour during work time to stay hydrated. Proper hydration is an important safety tip, enabling the body to cool itself off.
  • Make sure workers take plenty of breaks – in the shade. If there’s no natural shade, use artificial shade sources like canopies or lots of large umbrellas.
  • Provide workers with light-colored uniforms or make sure they wear their own light-colored clothing. Light colors reflect the sun instead of absorbing the heat. Keep fabrics lightweight for better airflow and to enable the body to stay cool.
  • Don’t forget hats. A lightweight, sturdy hat provides safety protection for the head and brain, not to mention preventing sunburn on the neck, face and scalp. Plus, a brimmed hat cuts down on accident-causing glare.
  • Try to schedule work during the early morning hours and late afternoon and evening. These are the times when the sun’s heat is less intense and the rays of the sun are less direct. That doesn’t mean the risk of heat stroke is eliminated, but it can be minimized during these times.

One more tip: Be sure your workers comp insurance policy is up to date. Heat-related illnesses and other workplace illnesses and injuries can be devastating for your workers, and for your business as well. Having adequate workers comp insurance provides peace of mind for employees and employers, and making sure you have ample coverage takes just a few minutes. To make sure your business has the workers comp coverage it needs, call Basi Insurance today at 877-590-4826 and have your policy reviewed.

Planning to Travel During Summer Vacation? Read These 5 Important Tips First

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Summer is the biggest travel season in the U.S. and abroad, with singles, families and couples all taking advantage of milder, sunnier weather to enjoy new sights and shake off the stresses of the working world. As fun as summer vacation can be, travel does take some careful planning to make sure you have complete peace of mind while you’re out and about. Here are a few important steps you can take ahead of time to ensure your travel plans are hassle-free and designed for ultimate enjoyment.

  • Don’t post about your summer vacation plans on social media, and discuss them with as few people as possible. It doesn’t take much to alert would-be thieves that your home will be sitting empty, and that’s like an invitation to break in and steal. Wait until after you get home to post your pics and travel stories.
  • Invest in some “smart” timers to control your lights and even your TV while you’re away from home. Turning lights on and off at different times makes it look like someone’s home and can play a big role in deterring burglars.
  • Don’t forget to have your mail held, and if you’re planning a long trip, have your lawn mowed as well. If you have a landline, turn the ringer off. Ask a trusted neighbor to remove flyers from your door and keep outside flower pots watered.
  • Install a smart doorbell. These doorbells feature small cameras, and they can alert you via your smartphone when someone rings the bell. A built-in speaker lets you respond so you can make it seem like you’re home, but just too busy to answer the bell.
  • Consider installing a home security system. Prices have dropped substantially in recent years, and there are some systems you can even install yourself. Before choosing a system, call your insurance company to see if the system you’re considering qualifies you for a policy discount.
  • When renting a car, think carefully before purchasing insurance at the rental counter. In many cases, your homeowner’s or car insurance policy may provide enough coverage without the need to purchase additional policies. Some premium credit cards also offer rental car coverage. If you plan on renting a car during your summer vacation, call Basi Insurance first and check with your credit card company to see if additional coverage makes sense or if you already have enough protection in place. If your policy doesn’t include rental coverage, ask about adding it. It’s very affordable.

Travel is one of the biggest pleasures of summer, especially for families with school-age kids. Taking a few simple precautions before hitting the road for your summer vacation adventure can help you maximize your fun while leaving all your worries behind.

Gear Up for a Responsible and Fun Boating Season

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We live in one the best areas of California for boating. The Delta, mountain lakes or a local reservoir – pick a direction and find the perfect spot for you and your family.

May 20 – 26 is National Safe Boating Week. As our customers and friends, we wanted to share with you a few, online tips and resources from the National Weather Service and National Safe Boating Council. Before you go out on the water:

  1. Check the marine forecast at your local NWS coastal office.
  2. Look up the latest buoy observations.
  3. Make sure your boat has essential (and usually required) safety equipment:
  • Life Jackets
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Emergency distress signals, sound-producing devices and location equipment, such as Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB) or Personal Locator Beacons (PLB).
  • Cell or satellite phone, weather radio and other communication devices for ANY weather condition or location.
  1. Pack plenty of sunscreen, water and first-aid supplies.
  2. Consider a safe boating course and a vessel safety check.

Add to the list, a review of your insurance coverage. Whatever you get behind for summer fun – boat, RV, all-terrain, or specialty car – we can double-check that your policies have kept pace with your current needs and will continue to protect you and your family. Call Basi Insurance Services at 209-847-3065.

Have a safe and memory-making summer!