Marijuana Sales: The tax revenue from the sale of marijuana continues to grow in Alaska. In August the state took in $1.5 million. That’s a new high. In fact, state officials say the only month this year where tax revenue has been below $1 million is February.
By the way, it is cultivators who pay the tax when pot is sold or transferred from a licensed grow facility to a retail shop or to a facility that manufacturers product.
So far this year the Alaska Department of Revenue says $15.8 million has been collected — so far — since sales became legal in October of 2016.
Source link: Insurance Journal
Work Comp Claim Frequency Privately Insured: Workers’ compensation claims reported by those in California who self-insure rose last year. It is the first jump in a decade.
According to the Office of Self-Insurance Plans (OSIP) these businesses cover 2.26 million employees. That’s down from the 2.37 million insured in 2017. The wages and salaries for the employees hit $103.9 billion — or 2.9% more than the total from 2016.
The OSIP said these self-insured companies said there were 79,655 claims. That’s 1,251 more claims than 2016 or 1.6%. While it went up in the last reported year, the claim numbers are still 31.5% below 2003’s level.
Source link: Insurance Journal
Wildfire Update: On July 13th of this year the Ferguson Fire started in California. It burned 100,000 acres of the Sierra National Forest, the Stanislaus National forest, Yosemite National Park and other state lands. It killed two people.
From the outset, officials believed the fire was started by a vehicle. Last week a report was released that said, “investigators believe superheated pieces of a catalytic converter came into contact with dry, roadside vegetation, igniting the fire.”
What wasn’t given was a description of the vehicle nor has it been located.
In a related story, the cause of last year’s Cascade Fire has been found. It is one of a complex of fires that killed four people and destroyed 264 structures last October. Investigators suspected equipment from PG&E was the cause. That is now official. They say sagging power lines from PG&E equipment have been tagged as the official cause of the blaze.
Source links: CNN, Insurance Journal
Medicare Workshop to be Offered in Lewiston: A free Medicare Workshop for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held Tuesday, October 16, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Community Action Partnership center, located at 124 New 6th St., Lewiston.
Caregivers and all those interested in learning how Medicare works are encouraged to attend.
The workshop will be led by Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA), a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance. SHIBA presenters will introduce the various parts of Medicare and explain some of the vocabulary associated with the program. Topics to be covered include:
• Timeframes for enrolling in Medicare
• Enrollment periods for Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans
• How the different parts of Medicare work together – and when they don’t
To register for the workshop, please contact the SHIBA office at 1-800-247-4422.
Health Insurance Rates for 2019 Now Available to the Public: Final 2019 premium rates for individual and small group health insurance plans have been released by the Idaho Department of Insurance. In the individual market, plans will increase by an average of 5 percent, a significant reversal in the double-digit rate increases Idahoans have faced the past three years, and a figure slightly lower than the 8 percent increase proposed by health carriers this past spring.
From 2016 to 2018, Idaho has averaged a 24-percent yearly increase for individual plans, including last year’s spike of 27 percent. The final 2019 rate adjustments and justifications for each carrier are published and can be viewed on the Department website at: https://doi.idaho.gov/consumer/RateReview/. Increases for bronze and silver plans remain the lowest, while rates for catastrophic plans will be the highest.
“Although I wish I could report no increase, I am thankful that the Department was able to work with the carriers in reducing the proposed increase,” said Director Dean Cameron. “I and the Department are continuing our efforts to offer more affordable health insurance products.”
Open enrollment for 2019 begins November 1, and those seeking coverage can visit the state’s insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, at: https://www.yourhealthidaho.org/. Four carriers are offering a total of 293 plans, including three carriers providing coverage statewide. Some consumers utilizing Your Health Idaho may be eligible for assistance covering premiums, out-of-pocket costs and deductibles.
Health insurance companies submit their proposed rate increases in the spring, and the Department works with carriers to evaluate these proposals. The Department’s only authority is to deem a proposed rate increase as “unreasonable” and cannot simply disapprove rates. Rate increase proposals are based on claims experience, premiums, network provider agreements and other costs. The Department recommends consumers work with a licensed agent to help evaluate the various plan options.
Record Pot Sales: Nevadans kicked off the first month of the new fiscal year with record sales of marijuana. Nevada’s Tax Department said there was $7.9 million in sales in July. That’s 11% higher than Fiscal Year 2018’s best three-months — March, May and June — all together.
It’s a 92% gain from the first sales in July of 2017 that hit just $4.1 million.
Source link: Insurance Journal
DCBS releases national study on workers' compensation costs: Oregon’s workers’ compensation rates remain among the lowest in the nation, according to an analysis released today by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). This reflects the state’s ongoing success in making workplaces safer and keeping costs under control.
The biennial study ranks all 50 states and Washington, D.C., based on premium rates that were in effect Jan. 1, 2018.
Oregon had the sixth least expensive rates in 2018, an improvement from its ranking as the seventh least expensive state the last time the study was done, in 2016. DCBS recently announced that Oregon workers’ compensation rates would decline further – an average 9.7 percent – in 2019. Workers’ compensation pays injured workers for lost wages and medical care for job-related injuries.
“Oregon continues to demonstrate that it’s possible to maintain low employer costs while providing strong support to workers,” Governor Kate Brown said. “We must remain committed to working together to balance employer rates and worker benefits, and to help injured workers heal and return to work quickly.” The study shows New York had the most expensive rates, followed by California. Meanwhile, North Dakota had the least expensive rates. In the Northwest, Washington’s rates were the 16th most expensive and Idaho was the 21st most expensive. Oregon researchers also compared each state’s rates to the national median (the 26th ranked state) rate of $1.70 per $100 of payroll. Oregon’s rate of $1.15 is 68 percent of the median.
To produce a valid comparison of states, which have various mixes of industries, the study calculates rates for each state using the same mix of the 50 industries with the highest workers’ compensation claims costs in Oregon. A summary of the study was posted today; the full report will be published later this year. Oregon has conducted these studies in even-numbered years since 1986, when Oregon’s rates were among the highest in the nation. The department reports the results to the Oregon Legislature as a performance measure. Oregon’s relatively low rate today underscores the success of the state’s workers’ compensation system reforms and its improvements in workplace safety and health.
Oregon has long taken a comprehensive approach to making workplaces safer, keeping business costs low, and providing strong worker benefits. This approach includes enforcing requirements that employers carry insurance for their workers, keeping medical costs under control, and helping injured workers return to work sooner and minimize the impact on their wages.
It also includes efforts to prevent on-the-job injuries by enforcing workplace safety and health rules, and advising employers about how to improve worker safety and health.
“Oregon employers and employees understand the importance of keeping workplaces safe,” said Cameron Smith, DCBS director. “That commitment continues to be a major factor in keeping costs down.” Here are some key links for the study/workers’ compensation costs:
• To read a summary of the study, go to https://www.oregon.gov/dcbs/reports/Documents/general/prem-sum/18-2082.pdf
• Prior years’ summaries and full reports with details of study methods can be found at https://www.oregon.gov/dcbs/reports/protection/Pages/general-wc-system.aspx
• Information on workers’ compensation costs in Oregon, including a map with these state rate rankings, is at https://www.oregon.gov/dcbs/cost/Pages/index.aspx
• Learn about Oregon’s return-to-work programs, workers’ compensation insurance requirements, and more at https://wcd.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx
• Request a no-cost workplace safety or health consultation, and learn about workplace safety and health requirements and resources at https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx