Archive for August 2011
As the beginning of a new school year approaches, your child may be considering playing on an organized sports team. Whether the sport is a school or community based athletic team, you will most likely be asked to schedule an appointment with a physician for a sports physical.
In fact, most school sponsored athletic teams require that kids complete their sports physical before they can even step onto the practice field.
The main reason organized teams require young athletes to have a sports physical is to determine if the child is healthy and in good enough physical condition to safely participate. While a sports physical may not determine or diagnosis all medical conditions, it may bring to light certain health problems with which your child may be struggling. It’s also a great opportunity to make sure your child is up to date on the required immunizations.
You can always schedule the sports physical with your regular doctor or local clinics, including some clinics that are now opening in retail grocery stores. Some schools may offer physicals with their on-site medical staff, or you may want to check with your local health department.
Due to the number of children and teens who die each year from sudden cardiac arrest while participating in sports, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that sports physicals be performed only by medical professionals who have been trained to recognize the signs of heart disease. While this number is minimal, many of these children had undiagnosed heart conditions or cardiac defects.
Most children pass their sports physical with flying colors and are allowed to participate in the sport of their choice. If your child shows any signs of the conditions listed below, your physician may ask to run additional tests to make sure your child does not have a condition that would make participation dangerous.
- Heart murmur or abnormal heartbeat.
- A history of dizziness, fainting.
- Chest pain, short of breath.
- Family history of sudden cardiac death or certain types of heart disease.
Even if the physician finds a health problem during the physical, in most cases children can be treated and placed on medications which will allow them to play sports safely. So get ready, and schedule the appointment so that your child can PLAY BALL!
The first day of school is just around the corner so what better time to take advantage of ‘preventive care’ for your children. The Affordable Care Act requires that health insurance plans provide coverage and eliminate cost sharing requirements for certain preventive services, including well-child care, without charging you a co-pay, coinsurance or deductible.
Most school systems require your child to be up to date on their immunizations, have vision and/or hearing screenings. Also, if they participate in sports, they may be required to have a complete health physical.
Some of the child preventive services covered under Health Care Reform include:
- Physical examination as well as height, weight and body mass index measurements.
- Vision screening.
- Hearing screening.
- Oral health risk assessments.
- Screening for hemoglobin or hematocrit level, lead, tuberculin etc.
- Obesity counseling and helping children maintain a healthy weight.
- Depression among adolescent children.
- Alcohol and drug use assessment for adolescents.
- Immunizations – for children from birth to age 18 include:
- Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
- Haemophilus influenza B.
- Hepatitis A and B.
- Inactivated poliovirus.
- Measles, mumps and rubella.
Check with your local school system to identify the health requirements for your child. Get ahead of the game by giving your child a healthy head start to the new school year.
For more information, please visit HealthCare.gov.
On July 11, 2011, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced two notices of proposed rulemaking. The first called for the establishment of exchanges and qualified health plans. The second affects standards related to reinsurance, risk corridors and risk adjustment. The proposed guidance is designed to help states design and implement their exchanges in two key areas:
- Setting standards for establishing the exchanges, setting up a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), performing the basic function of an exchange and certifying health plans for participation in the exchanges.
- Ensuring premium stability for plans and enrollees in the exchanges, especially in the early years as new people use the exchanges to shop for health insurance.
The exchange guidance issued by HHS is not final. HHS is accepting public comments on the proposed exchange guidance for 75 days to learn from states and other stakeholders how the rules can be improved. HHS expects to make changes to its proposed guidance based on the comments it receives.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidelines in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 1st, requiring health insurance plans to cover several women’s health preventive services, including birth control, with no co-pay or deductible required by the patient, beginning on or after August 1, 2012.
Below are a few of the notable changes:
- The new benefits become active one year from now for new health insurance policies.
- Eventually, nearly all policies will cover costs of birth control. Members should check their specific policy to determine coverage.
- The new rules allow religious organizations which offer coverage to refrain from covering birth control options that are ”inconsistent” with their beliefs.
- The no co-pay, no deductible coverage for birth control applies only to FDA approved contraceptive methods.
- Additional preventative care services that will be included in the list of free services for women include:
- Well-women visits.
- Breast-feeding support, supplies and counseling.
- Gestational diabetes screening.
- Human papillomavrius (HPV) DNA testing for women 30-years-old and older.
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling.
- Sexually-transmitted infection counseling.
- Domestic violence screening and counseling.
Criminals have become more persistent with the methods that they use to target businesses and home owners. An increasingly common crime involves stealing copper and other metals and selling them to scrap yards. Thieves are able to make a few hundred dollars off of the stolen metal, but the cost to the owners could be thousands.
Copper is currently trading at just over $4 a pound and is a commonly used material in home construction and repair. Metal thieves will steal copper gutters, copper tubing and the copper coils found inside A/C units. Theft of these materials is usually covered under your homeowner’s policy; however, there are preventative measures that you can take to avoid the situation altogether. For instance, if you are in the process of renovating or building a home, make sure that all of the metal materials are locked up or made inaccessible while no one is present at the site. In regards to your A/C unit, companies such as A/C Stolen offer cages that can be placed around the unit to prevent would-be thieves.
Another growing trend is the theft of catalytic converters. Catalytic converters are found underneath cars and trucks and are used to limit the number of dangerous emissions that the vehicles release into the air. Criminals target these accessories because they contain expensive metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium and are considered relatively easy to steal, especially for SUVs and trucks that have higher ground clearances than cars. Using a handheld saw, criminals can remove a catalytic converter in a matter of seconds. If the cost of the converter causes you to reach your car insurance deductible, you would be covered under your car insurance policy. However, as with the previous scenario, there are certain measures you can take to prevent a potential theft. It is advised to park on well-lit streets or in a garage. Additionally, there are companies such as Cat Clamp that make locking systems that safely encage your catalytic converter.
It is virtually impossible to predict these types of offenses, but with the right preventative measures you greatly decrease the risk that you will be a victim of one of these common crimes.
For the second consecutive year, Neace Lukens was featured as one of the top 5,000 fastest growing companies in the U.S. by Inc. magazine. Neace Lukens has experienced 17 percent revenue growth in three years. To read more, click here.
Do you have a student heading to college? Whether your son or daughter will be living on campus or off, there are some important factors to consider in regards to the insurance coverage that they will be able to receive while away from the home.
Many first-year students will be required to live in on-campus housing, particularly a dorm. Under most circumstances, students living in on-campus housing are covered under their parents’ existing homeowner’s policy. However, sometimes the coverage is inadequate. Review the new living situation with your insurance agent and ask if any additional coverage is necessary. It is often a good idea to have expensive items such as laptops and TVs covered under an additional “valuable item” policy.
If your son or daughter is among the many students planning on living in off-campus housing, the rules change entirely. Under this circumstance, your homeowner’s policy will not provide them with any coverage, and you should strongly consider adopting a renter’s insurance policy. They usually range in price from $15 through $30 per month.
These are just a few circumstances that can affect your insurance payments. For additional information on any of the topics listed above, your insurance agent should be able to answer any and all questions.
For more information, please visit DailyFinance.com.
On July 1, 2011, Governor John Kasich signed a new budget bill for Ohio. It included substantial changes to the way that Ohio Public Works projects will be addressed in the future. Below are some of the most important changes that are outlined in the bill.
- There is no longer a need for multiple-prime contracting to be used for public improvements. Also, public authorities will be able to engage in contracts with construction managers at risk (CMAR) and design-build (D/B) firms.
- Before selecting a D/B firm, public authorities will be required to engage with an engineer or architect. The engineer or architect is required to be either qualification-based or an employee of the public authority.
- When subcontracting work, CMARs and D/B companies have an obligation to:
- Establish pre-qualification criteria.
- Have the pre-qualification criteria approved.
- Identify at least three prospective bidders or subcontractors.
- Select subcontractors under an open book pricing method.
- Adopt the rules for establishing prequalification procedures.
- With the exception of CMARs and D/B firms, the cost threshold for competitive bidding for state projects has been increased from $50,000 to $200,000.
- The monetary threshold for wage requirements on public improvement projects is set at $125,000 for the first year, $200,000 for the second year and $250,000 for the third year. (Roads, sewers, ditches and other related projects are not required to abide by this principle.)
- Public improvement projects being undertaken by a Port Authority created by a municipal corporation, township or county under R.C. 4582.02 or 4582.22 after 1964 are exempt from prevailing wage requirements.
- School districts and other education services centers are prohibited from applying the prevailing wage law to public improvements.
Workplace wellness programs are really gaining momentum these days, as employers continue to look for new and dynamic ways to cut health care costs while improving the health & productivity of their employees. However, despite the growing popularity of these programs, many employers are still hesitant to implement these programs. There are a number of reasons for this; however I typically find that while employers see the value in a wellness initiative, they lack the knowledge of what resources are out there to assist them in the creation of a successful program.
On September 27, I will be leading a breakout session at the 2011 Indiana Employee Health & Wellness Summit, (presented by the Indiana Chamber and the Wellness Council of Indiana in partnership with InShape Indiana) alongside Program Director for the Wellness Council of Indiana, Chuck Gillespie. This session entitled, Wellness Council Certification Process: Achieve WELL, will not only educate employers of all sizes about the process for obtaining certification from the Wellness Council of Indiana, but will answer some common employer questions regarding wellness programs: Am I doing the right thing? What resources are available to me? What are the costs? Also, we will provide information on a number products and services available to Indiana employers for workplace wellness programming.
In addition to a number of other informational breakout sessions throughout the day, the 2011 Indiana Employee Health & Wellness Summit has some exceptional guest speakers on the agenda. We are thrilled to welcome Marci Crozier, recent contestant on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, acclaimed keynote, Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, aka The Stress Doc™, and Kevin Leville, Founder and CEO of Eat Right America to name a few. I am honored to serve as the 2011 Indiana Employee Health and Wellness Summit Master of Ceremonies.
For further details on the 2011 Indiana Employee Health & Wellness Summit, I invite you to check out the official Summit Brochure.
To register for this exciting one day wellness summit, email Sarah at email@example.com. Be sure to use the Neace Lukens Client Priority Code 9377 to receive 10% off your registration. In addition, the Indiana Chamber is offering a send one; get the second half-off discount.
When signing a contract with a vendor or supplier, you are most likely agreeing to terms that are either bringing on risk or passing on risk. Almost every company doing business has partaken in this for years. But have you ever examined what is actually written in your contracts and how your company is affected or exposed? Let’s start by understanding the process.
A product will be “handled” by multiple parties throughout its life cycle while moving through the entire supply chain, manufacturing chain and distribution chain. Sound business relationships are vital for smooth functioning and for getting the product out to market quickly. So how do you handle mishaps that inevitably occur, while still avoiding potentially contentious situations with suppliers and vendors? The best way is to clearly spell out each party’s responsibilities in advance through various contractual agreements, which are typically required. Since injury and liability can be created at any point along the product’s path to the end consumer, it is extremely important to create language that shifts the burden of responsibility to the party that has the greatest ability to mitigate the risk. The portion of the contract that deals with risk transfer is critical, and below are the most commonly used provisions to accomplish contractual risk transfer. Keep in mind that contractual laws vary from state to state, and your attorney can and should advise you on those nuances. Also, remember that every contractual agreement should be looked at under a case by case situation and one “generic” agreement is not recommended as relationships with vendors and suppliers can vary and can create their own challenges.
- Indemnity provisions. This section may include one or more of the following obligations:
- 1) Indemnify – To reimburse the other in the event of a loss.
- 2) Defend – To pay for legal defense if a third-party brings a claim.
- 3) Hold Harmless – To exempt a party from any responsibilities in the event of damages.
As an example, a manufacturer may agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the vendor who is selling the product from any claim that arises from a third party in connection with the product.
Keep in mind that before agreeing to an indemnification provision in a contract, it will be important to check the wording against the coverage provided by your insurance policy, as many times the indemnification section in the contract is broader than the coverage in the policy. In that case, you would be responsible for the uninsured liability. For example, many policies will not cover the other party’s sole negligence yet many contracts have this wording in them.
- Exculpatory provisions. Exculpatory provisions act as a way to eliminate a company’s liability stemming from its own wrongful acts. It may be a simple statement requiring the other party to waive any and all claims against you that result from the business being transacted. In theory this provision is a convenient way to be shielded from potential lawsuits; however, courts may not enforce it. Companies should be very wary of accepting this type of provision in contracts.
- Additional Insured provisions. Another way to transfer risk is by requiring the other party to list you on their insurance policy as an Additional insured and vice versa. This obligates their insurance carrier to defend and indemnify you as an Additional Insured, even though you pay no premium. Within this provision, other insurance requirements may also be stated, such as the limits, the type of policy form and what type of insurance is required.
It is not enough to simply get an e-mail stating you were “added” as an Additional Insured or receiving a certificate of insurance that shows you were added. You need to see the actual endorsement as coverage for an Additional Insured can be drastically reduced to limit the insurance carrier’s exposure. This can lead you to being majorly underinsured without even knowing it. The endorsement will spell out how you are covered and if there are restrictions or sub-limits for you as an Additional Insured.
If you are adding companies to you insurance policy to gain their business you really need to be careful as well. One very good risk management tactic to follow is to do an annual aggregate contractual liability exposure analysis with your broker. This will help you understand and see all the liability that you have taken on. For example, if you add 10 companies as Additional Insureds throughout the year and you only have $1,000,000 in liability coverage, is that enough in the event of a claim? Or if you have a $900,000 claim then that means you only have $100,000 left for all the other additional insureds to tap in to. A bit scary if you ask me.
- Waiver of Subrogation provisions. Subrogation is the process of one party’s insurance carrier seeking reimbursement from the other party for money spent if they believe that other party was at fault. If your insurance carrier is seeking reimbursement from one of your business partners, it has the potential to severely damage that business relationship. In order to avoid deteriorating partnerships, one or both parties can agree to waive their right of subrogation against the other party before a loss occurs. As with the exculpatory provision, the waiver of subrogation may not hold up in court in the case of gross negligence or willful misconduct. Additionally, your insurance company will want to know if you are doing this and in some cases be the final say because they are the one paying for the claim in the end and/or trying to recover monies.
Shifting the burden of liability through contract language is one method companies have to manage their risk. Keep in mind that just because you sign a contract, it doesn’t mean that your insurance company will agree to the terms and cover a claim. Understanding these terms and provisions as well as how to properly transfer risk is a step towards limiting your company’s overall liability landscape.
NOTE: We are not attorneys and are not recommending any legal advice. All contracts and the information below should be discussed with your counsel before implementing.