Archive for February, 2015

Tort reform – hype vs. reality

February 26, 2015 Leave a comment

med_mal_op_edAsk any healthcare provider about what goes on during the arduous task of completing a medical professional liability renewal and you’re bound to hear about insurance market conditions and the state of insurance renewals. Everyone from politicians (both local and federal) to advocacy groups and providers themselves seems to be commenting about how the “crisis” with medical malpractice insurance inhibits the performance of good medicine. The phrase “defensive medicine” was a phrase rarely mentioned until recently. Now, it’s permeated the nomenclature of both patients and providers alike. However, an objective review of the medical professional liability insurance market would find the claim of a “crisis” to be unfounded, or incomplete at best. Read more…

Collaboration is the key when it comes to cybersecurity

February 23, 2015 Leave a comment

cyber_securityThe President, industry leaders, and lawmakers visited the tech-hub of Stanford University earlier this month for an official White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection. The discussions focused on increasing collaboration between the government and the private sector in order to prevent potentially crippling data breaches. The administration hopes that this will encourage Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation. Here are a few key takeaways from the summit:

  1. Cybersecurity is an issue for all sectors of the economy.
    The Identity Theft Resource Center found that 85 million records were exposed last year both in the public and private sectors. Cyber attackers trumped terrorists as the #1 threat to national security last year while data breaches on companies such as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Target, Home Depot, and most recently, insurance giant Anthem Inc., resulted in costly losses.

Read more…

Snow is risky

February 18, 2015 Leave a comment

boston_snowHeadlines involve risk. So it should be no surprise that New England’s latest snow pileup has a risk angle.  Budget-busting storm cleanups hit government organizations first.  The federal government, states, counties, municipalities, airports and other transportation hubs all have direct costs of cleanup.  Of course, they also have regular budgets for snow removal, so it can be said that such costs are not unexpected.  But, when the cost exceeds the budget two or three times over, there is detrimental risk and insurance can be purchased by the season, month or individual storm.  In fact, many government organizations buy at least some insurance for these unusual seasonal fluctuations.  Insurance underwriters, principally in London, have adequate underwriting information, such as detailed weather history of major cities, ­on which to base their rates.  So, the market for coverage is broad and relatively efficient. Read more…

Workforce classification: IRS guidelines critical for review

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

time_hardhatFrom tax codes to wage and hour regulations, employers must be extremely diligent when it comes to classifying their workforce. Business owners need to have a clear understanding of what determines whether the individuals providing services are employees or independent contractors, and as the tax season approaches, it’s a good time for businesses to review the IRS guidelines that distinguish between these two types of workers.
The following criteria should be used to classify independent contractors and employees:

  1. Behavioral Control:
    • If an employer trains and directs work, including hours of work, what tools or equipment to be used, specific tasks to be performed and how the work is to be done, the worker is likely an employee. If the worker can set his or her own hours and works with little or no direction or training, he or she is probably an independent contractor.

    Read more…

Can Staples manage employee hours to avoid offering ACA required health coverage?

February 13, 2015 Leave a comment

staples_acaThe spotlight has been on Staples in recent weeks due to accusations that the company is purposefully reducing employee hours to avoid offering health coverage per the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA requires employers with 100 or more full-time employees to offer health coverage to full-time employees, defined as those working 30 or more hours per week.

Staples employees have voiced frustration against a long-standing company policy that states part-time employees cannot work more than 25 hours per week. Employees allege that strict enforcement of this policy clashes with the ACA’s employer mandate. Surely the intent of the ACA is not to drive employers to reduce employee’s hours, however, there may be temptation to do so. Are policies which enable an employer to skirt the law – whether intentionally or not – legal? Read more…

Anthem data breach latest scare for health insurers

data-securityThe nation’s second largest health insurer, Anthem (which includes several major Blue Cross and Blue Shields brands), has reported a major data breach. Last Wednesday, security personnel discovered a hack in which cyber thieves accessed the names, birth dates, social security numbers, addresses and member IDs of up to 80 million current and former policy holders. Anthem’s President and CEO, Joseph R. Swedish, in a letter to its current and former members said that through its initial analysis of the breach “there is no evidence that credit card or medical information, such as claims, test results or diagnostic codes were targeted or compromised.” Nevertheless, the impact of this breach is significant. Read more…