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It’s Official — Burnout is a Medical Condition

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 4, 2019


The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared that burnout is a medical condition and added it to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). Burnout is defined as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Also included in the statement is a broad definition of burnout:

  Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion

  Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job

  Reduced professional efficacy

WHO said the designation is mostly aimed at the workplace. “Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life,” the statement said.

The publication Psychology Today took the WHO designation and listed five ways to help you define whether you are burned out or not.

It is difficult to cope with workplace stress: WHO says burnout is more than just stress. It is at the core of the concern. Stress can be handled with some coping mechanisms. Burnout comes from those coping systems not working.

Drained from work: When work exhausts you or depletes all of your energy, you are burned out. To test this go back to a time when you put in the same amount of hours and same amount of work and ended that amount of time feeling invigorated. Burnout says you are more mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted by that same work.

You find no pleasure in your work: Even if your job is exhausting, you still feel connected, that you have a purpose and fulfilled by your work. When you are burned out you have no pleasure in work at all.

Negative feelings about work: When you are burned out thoughts about work brings up negative emotions. You find yourself cynical and negative. It becomes more and more difficult to connect positives to work.

You don’t feel you can accomplish your work obligations: When stress in the workplace becomes chronic you become less efficient. You doubt your ability. This doubt includes work you are normally very competent doing. This — in turn — impedes your motivation, functionality and productivity.

The publication says if you’re feeling any of these things, you are burned out and need to seek assistance from a trained professional.

WHO also added two new conditions to the list:

  Compulsive sexual behavior as a mental disorder

  It is not an addiction as some have suggested

  Video gaming

The list removes transgenderism as a mental disorder. It is now a “condition related to sexual health.”

Source links: Psychology Today, The Straits Times, Quartz at Work, The Daily Mail

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Finances — Families List Their Top Financial Problems

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Gallup has a new poll. It involves the economy and what people — and people are your clients — fear most economically. Health care costs topped the list. Here are some overall numbers:

  17% say health care is the most significant financial issue

  11% said a lack of money or low wages

  8% pointed to college expenses

  8% noted the cost of owning or renting a home

  8% said taxes

The issue is the top concern for older Americans:

  25% of those between 50 and 64 named it tops

  23% of people 65 and older did as well

  It tied lack of money, college expenses and housing costs for those under 50

In 2017 health care costs topped the list as well and it came close to being in a tie with a lack of money and low wages in 2018. Health care costs, energy costs like oil and gas prices and a lack of money and low wages are the only three issues to be named a most important family financial problem listed in all 48 of these polls that Gallup has done since 2005.

It must be noted, though, that the high costs of energy and gas prices has dropped over the last decade.

Here’s another oddity from the poll:

  20% of us say we do not have a most important financial problem

  That’s one of the highest responses in 14-years

  It also tops February of 2005 when 21% said none to that question

In its statement on the poll, Gallup said, “Even in generally good economic times, Americans still face significant personal financial challenges. Foremost among these are healthcare costs, which have been a consistent concern over time but currently stand above all other concerns. As such, healthcare will likely continue to be a major focus in national elections, including the 2020 presidential election.”

Source link: The Hill

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 4, 2019

California — Price Gouging: California Governor Gavin Newsom has extended price gouging protections for renters in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. The fires there destroyed 6,200 homes. The executive order adds more time onto the order that has been in place since 2017.

It lasts until the end of 2019 and prevents hikes in rent over over 10%.

Newsom’s order also covers renters in Santa Barbara and Shasta counties where fire has impacted the housing market since 2018.

California State Sen. Bill Dodd — a Democrat from Napa — praised the governor’s decision to extend the protections. “I think it’s an important step to just make sure that people know and understand that this kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated,” he said. “I just think it’s important that people not be taken advantage of because they were one of the unfortunate ones that had their homes burned in the wildfire.”

Source link: Press Democrat

Idaho — Medicare Workshops: Free Medicare Workshop for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held in the following Idaho cities:

June 14, 2019
Rexburg, Idaho
4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Madison Memorial Hospital in the Meeting Room on the 2nd Floor
450 E. Main Street

June 18, 2019
Kellogg, Idaho
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The Shoshone Medical Center/Classroom
25 Jacobs Gulch Rd

June 25, 2019
Coeur d`Alene, Idaho
1:00 p.m to 3:00 p.m.
The Kroc Center, 1765 Golf Course Rd.

June 26, 2019
Blackfoot, Idaho
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The Bingham County Senior Citizen Center, 20 E. Pacific Street

June 27, 2019
Coeur d`Alene, Idaho
5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The Kroc Center, 1765 Golf Course Rd.

Medicare workshops are designed to introduce the various parts of Medicare and to share some of the costs and benefits associated with the program.  Sessions cover enrollment timeframes for Medigap, Medicare Advantage, prescription drug plans, and how the different parts of Medicare work together.

Staff with the state’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program, a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance, conduct the workshops.  To register for the upcoming session, please contact the SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-247-4422.

Idaho — Dept. of Insurance Seeks Comments on Coverage Choice Waiver: The Idaho Department of Insurance is requesting public comment through public hearings, email or traditional mail regarding a draft Section 1332 State Relief and Empowerment Waiver application. The Department plans to submit the waiver application to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and to the United States Department of the Treasury on or about July 15, 2019.

The purpose of the waiver, titled the Coverage Choice Waiver, is to allow Idahoans with incomes from 100% to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) the choice to continue receiving tax credits to reduce premiums for private health insurance, or alternatively to enroll in Medicaid. The proposed effective date for the waiver is January 1, 2020.

In November 2018, voters passed a proposition to expand Medicaid eligibility to individuals with incomes up to 138% FPL. The Idaho legislature then passed SB1204aa, instructing the Department of Health and Welfare and the Department of Insurance to seek the Coverage Choice Waiver. Without the waiver, individuals who are eligible for Medicaid cannot qualify for the premium tax credit.

The Department’s comprehensive public notice, tribal notice and the waiver application are available at https://doi.idaho.gov/publicinformation/publiccomments. The public hearings will be held at the following locations:

Boise Public Hearing                                             Lewiston Public Hearing
Location:  Department of Health & Welfare       Location:  Department of Health & WelfareWestgate Office, Room 131                   Lewiston Office, 3rd Floor Conference Room   1720 Westgate Drive, Boise                                1118 F Street, Lewiston
Date: June 24, 2019                                               Date: June 27, 2019
Time:  2:00 – 3:00 PM                                            Time:  10:00 – 11:00 AM

Public comments will be accepted until June 30, 2019.

Oregon — From the Department of Insurance: Amendment to the 2020 standard bronze and silver health benefit plan

Rules affected: OAR 836-053-0013

Need for Rules:

ORS 743B.130 requires the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) to prescribe by rule the form, level of coverage, and benefit design for bronze and silver health benefit plans that must be offered by insurance carriers. These plans must meet federal requirements issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Each year, HHS updates the actuarial value (AV) calculator used for determining coverage levels. Changes may include costs, plan designs, populations, developments in the function and operation of the AV calculator and other actuarially relevant factors.

As a result of changes made to the federal AV calculator for 2020, the AV for the standard bronze and silver plans prescribed in OAR 836-053-0013 exceeded federal requirements. Failure to update the rule would result in DCBS requiring carriers to submit plans that are illegal with respect to federal law.

This year, HHS released the AV calculator later than in previous years. As a result, a permanent rulemaking would not have been completed in time for carriers to submit plans in May for review so a temporary rule was adopted. The department is now following the procedures to adopt this temporary rule into a permanent rule.

Filed: May 29, 2019

Public hearing: June 24, 2019, 10:00 a.m.

Last day for public comment: July 1, 2019, 5 p.m.

The agency requests public comment on whether other options should be considered for achieving the rule's substantive goals while reducing the negative economic impact of the rule on business.

For more information on this proposed rule, please visit the Division's website:


Oregon — Cuts in Marijuana Production: The Oregon Liquor Control Commission says there is so much marijuana available in Oregon that it could take over six-years to smoke or eat it all. So five years after voters made it legal to use recreationally, the commission has been given more power by the Legislature to limit production.

Retail prices used to be about $10 a gram. As of the end of 2018 that figure was $5 per gram and falling. That means smaller producers were feeling the bite of competition more than large retailers.

To fix the problem limits will be implemented in the area of licenses and permits.

The Legislature’s bill also puts penalties on those tempted to put unsold pot onto the black market. When she signed the bill, Governor Kate Brown said, “The harsh reality is we have too much product on the market.”

Source link: Independent Record

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PG&E Update — $105 Million Wildfire Assistance Fund

Posted By Kim Legato, Tuesday, May 28, 2019

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali has agreed to let PG&E set up a $105 million fund to help fund the victims of fires it caused in 2017 and 2018. The fund is for people who lost homes and were uninsured, or have used up — or soon will — their insurance.

These homeowners are fighting for PG&E funds along with other creditors. The judge said he wants to see this fund up and running quickly. He also wants the company and the unsecured creditors to try to agree on an administrator for the fund.

“I’ll make sure the process moves forward quickly,” Montali said.

The money for the fund will come from available cash. It’s not enough according to the lawyers representing wildfire victims. They wanted $250 million or more. The judge said he had no choice but to either accept or reject PG&E’s proposal. He could not — by law — modify the request.

Montali approved extensions of four months for the firm’s unsecured creditors instead of the six-months PG&E wanted. California Governor Gavin Newsom wants the extensions to be done within 75 days instead. Wildfire victims say the company has had enough extensions and that it is stalling.

The point is to make sure PG&E gets the claims settled and a reorganization plan done.

The company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January of this year because of $30 billion in debt — with more likely coming — for the wildfires its equipment caused.

Source links: Reuters, Carrier Management

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Update: Oregon’s PERS & SAIF Crisis

Posted By Kim Legato, Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A few weeks ago Oregon Governor Kate Brown decided the solution to Oregon’s PERS income-outgo shortfall crisis would be to grab money from the State Insurance and Accident Fund’s (SAIF) surplus. The proposal would have taken $486 million from the surplus of $1.9 billion.

The reaction from business and insurance groups was instant. Organizations like the PIA Oregon/Idaho banned together to stop the governor’s ill-conceived plan. The effort worked and a different solution was found.

It involves kicking the problem’s can down the road but at least — for now — SAIF’s surplus has been left out. Meanwhile, in a very astute political move the SAIF board of directors — via SAIF President and CEO Kerry Barnett — has sent a letter to Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney and to House Speaker Tina Kotek.

In the letter Barnett said, “I wanted to inform you that at our board meeting next month, we will recommend that SAIF establish a substantial side account that will offset most, if not all, of the UAL allocated to SAIF.”

Or to put it in other words, SAIF is looking at funding the total PERS liability for its own employees. “We have already conducted some analysis regarding recreation of a side account, and we will be asking PERS to calculate SAIF's portion of the outstanding UAL, which is an initial step in creating a side account,” he wrote. “Based on DAS estimates, we believe the amount is approximately $91 million.”

PIA Oregon Lobbyist Lana Butterfield told Weekly Industry News, “This was a smart political move by SAIF. Leadership wanted something from them. This move to pay down its own PERS obligation helps SAIF itself and also pays down some of their surplus, while satisfying legislators.”

Kelsey Wood of Gordon Wood Insurance and Financial Services in Roseburg, Oregon wonders if consumers will understand what the SAIF board is considering. In his reply to our query, Wood said, “[I] Just hope consumers understand. 1. What surplus is for.  2. Why SAIF’s surplus differs from other insurers, and 3. And the payment on PERS is 100% benefit to Saifs bottom.”

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1st Quarter Underwriting — Net Underwriting Income is Up

Posted By Kim Legato, Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Underwriting income is always a concern for property-casualty insurers. Good news! Net underwriting income for P&C insurers jumped 24% in the first quarter of this year when compared to the same time period last year.

The net hit $4.2 billion.

The figures come from the A.M. Best special report First Look—3 Month Property/Casualty Financial Results. With the positives comes a negative or two. The report notes the income is up but the combined ratio fell 1.3% to 96.5. Increases in the loss and loss-adjustment expense (LAE) ratio and the underwriting expense ratio — based on net premiums written — caused the drop.

It’s 2.3% compared to the same quarter a year ago.

The Best report says catastrophe losses added three points to the quarter’s combined ratio. That’s down from an estimated 3.4% a year ago.

Net investment income rose $1.4 billion. It — added to the underwriting income rise — bumped the pre-tax operating income by 16.2% to $17.8 billion. That’s good news but a $2 billion drop in realized capital gains and income taxes staying flat led to a net income of $16.9 billion.

That’s only a $400 million jump over the first quarter of 2018.

Source link: Insurance Journal

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Federal Reserve Report — The Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households

Posted By Kim Legato, Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Every year for the last six the Federal Reserve Board has released a report on the economic well-being of the nation’s households. The 2018 report — titled the Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED) — says things are slightly better than the excellent results of 2017.

The report surveyed 11,000 adults across all economic situations and included all races and minorities. Most said they have experienced “substantial” gains since the survey started in 2013. It is — the board says — in line with the ongoing economic expansion being experienced nationwide.

These are the items considered in the survey:



  Handling of expenses






Here is a summary:

  75% said they are doing okay or living comfortably

  That’s up 12% from the first survey in 2013

  Asked how to pay a $400 unexpected expense

  61% said they could pay with cash or savings or a credit card

  If a credit card is used, the balance could be paid off the next statement

  12% would not be able to cover the $400 expense

  In 2013 only half could have paid with cash or by credit card

As for race, education level and — in some cases — geography, some in those categories are still experiencing some financial stress.

  80% of caucasians say they are at least doing okay financially

  66% of African Americans and hispanics said the same thing

  87% of those with Batchelor degrees or higher said they are at least doing okay

  Just 64% of those with a high school degree or less said they are at least doing okay

  80% of those living in middle-or-upper income neighborhoods are satisfied overall with their community

  60% of those living in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods are satisfied overall with their community

Federal Reserve Board Governor Michelle Bowman said the report shows a growing American economy is supporting most American families. “At the same time, the survey does find differences across communities, with just over half of those living in rural areas describing their local economy as good or excellent compared to two-thirds of those living in cities,” she said. “Across the country, many families continue to experience financial distress and struggle to save for retirement and unexpected expenses.”

Here’s more:

  Family income changes from month-to-month continues to be a financial strain for some individuals

  30% have family income that varies from month-to-month

  10% struggled at least once during the year to make ends meet because of income changes

  Financial support was needed from family or friends for that group

  That is most common among young adults

  Most adults are working as much as they want — that is an indication of full employment

  Some — however — remain unemployed or underemployed

  10% of adults are not working and want to work

  However, many are not actively looking for work

  4% of adults are not working and want to work and had applied for jobs in the last 12 months

  That’s close to the 3.8% national unemployment rate

  20% are working but want to work more

  African Americans, hispanics and those with less education are less satisfied with how much they are working

  66% of graduates with Batchelor’s degrees think their education investment paid off financially

  Just 30% who started toward a degree and did not finish agree with that assessment

  Over half of young adults that attended college took on debt to pay for that education

  Over a fifth that went to private-for-profit schools are behind on loan payments

  That compares to 8% of those that went to public institutions and 5% that attended private-not-for-profit schools

  On retirement, most adults are struggling to save for retirement

  36% of non-retired respondents think they’re on track

  25% have no retirement savings or pensions

  Even those with some savings have no clue how to make investment decisions

Click here for a link to a video summarizing the findings.

Click here for a news release on the report.

Source link PDF of the report: The Federal Reserve

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Bipartisanship in Healthcare — A New Senate Package

Posted By Kim Legato, Tuesday, May 28, 2019

 Image courtesy of The 74

The Senate Health Committee has passed a bipartisan bill to help lower healthcare costs for consumers. The bill was worked up by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Washington Democrat Sen. Patty Murray.

Both senators have been working for months on ways to solve the high cost of healthcare in the U.S. In her statement, Murray said, “The steps we are taking on important issues like surprise medical billing, drug prices, maternal mortality, and vaccine hesitancy show we can make progress when both sides are at the table ready to put patients and families first.”

The bill has three dozen specific actions. They range from — as Murray noted — surprise billing to transparency for the cost of drugs and how drug companies provide rebates to pharmacy benefit managers.

They are drug middlemen.

Alexander and Murray hope to have the bill on the Senate floor by this summer — July at the latest — and they want comments from other committee members by June 5th.

President Trump has been told about the bill and he has encouraged action. The administration has offered a number of principles to guide the Senate through this process. The top-priority of the president is surprise medical bills. Doctors and insurers are behind the action.

In other action, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Oregon Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden have been working on a bill to lower drug prices.

Alexander has suggested to Grassley and Wyden that they meld their bill in with the one just crafted by him and Murray.

Source link: The Hill

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Special Report — Ransomware, Employees & Executives

Posted By Kim Legato, Tuesday, May 28, 2019


The city of Baltimore, Maryland is the latest in a growing line of cities being hit with ransomware. Demands for huge sums of money go along with the attacks.

Beazley Breach Response Services (BBR) said ransomware is the new Internet danger and it’s affecting everyone from large cities to the smallest user and is now — specifically — targeting business.

If an employee opens the wrong email, you’re toast.

The cyber security firm said in the first quarter of this year ransomware attacks rose 105% when compared to the first quarter last year. The average payment demand hit $224,871. At 93% that — too — is a huge increase compared to a year ago.

In 2018 the average target demand was $116,324.

The increase in attacks is aimed at larger organizations and businesses who can afford the payout. Most ransomware comes via service platforms like RaaS but other — and more sophisticated forms — are now being used to hit unsuspecting small businesses like most of yours.

They involve phishing emails and Trojans designed to get you to give out banking information. These aren’t new forms of attacks. They’re just being updated to make it easier for you to fall for them.

The criminals have grown so sophisticated that they’ll do reconnaissance on your email accounts and when a weakness is found, will send out malware. Katherine Keefe of BBR says they do this with alarming ease. “We have witnessed a considerable uptick in notifications of both ransomware and banking Trojans in the first few months of this year,” she said. “Banking Trojans are particularly troublesome as they are often more difficult to eradicate from an infected IT system than other forms of malware.”

It gets worse. Keefe said, “Not only are we receiving more notifications but they are often used by cyber criminals to install secondary viruses onto computer systems.”

Bill Siegel of Coveware said two things are leading to increased attacks. “First, anytime the average ransom demand goes up, it’s going to pull in more attack groups interested in making money. Second, the easy availability of exploit kits (such as banking Trojans) and RaaS means there is a lower barrier to entry for would-be hackers.”

All of this leads to one important action — employee training. It is essential and a tool companies must use to defend themselves against vicious and very sophisticated phishing scams.

Annual training is not the answer. Experts recommend phishing awareness eduction and training that starts when an employee is hired. That training needs to also become part of the corporate culture and be done on a regular basis.

It must be multifaceted and constant.

Experts say education should start with emphasis to employees about how important it is to pay attention and how phishing is a tremendous threat to the company. So the education means the company has to keep up with the latest phishing methods and techniques.


Plus, employee education isn’t just sitting and listening to lectures. The kind of training recommended is videos showing a phishing attack in real time, or an actual classroom setting where a phishing attack is simulated. This education includes how to stop an attack if it begins.

Another recommendation is for company officials to send out their own phishing emails to see if employees fall for them, and how they react to the email.

That leads to best practices and employees educated to know:

  Never to trust an email no matter the source and purpose

  Never accept that logos and images are authentic

  To be suspicious of emails that have generic greetings and the wrong grammar style

  To be aware that phishing subject lines are often aggressive or enticing and designed to get them to open a link

  That emails urging immediate action can be used to scare or intimidate them into acting hastily

  Never to click a link without first verifying the destination of the link

  Neer to transmit vital or sensitive company information over email

While a lot of training is focused by executives on employees, executives need to be aware that they have become a major target of phishing thieves. A report From Verizon — the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Report — says access to data and their engaging in social engineering makes execs an important target.

Of the 41,686 security incidents studied from 2018, a whopping 2,013 — or 20% — were of executives.

Source links: PropertyCasualty360.com — link 1, link 2, Insurance Journal

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Las Vegas Shooting Lawsuit Settlement

Posted By Kim Legato, Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Lawsuits were filed shortly after the mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017. That’s the evening Stephen Paddock was a guest lodged on the 32nd floor. While there he took a stockpile of weapons and started firing at the concert attendees at the Route 91 Harvest Festival across from the hotel.

After the smoke cleared and Paddock was dead, hundreds were injured and 58 concertgoers were dead.

MGM Resorts International owns the hotel and thinks it will spend between $735 million and $800 million to settle the claims from families and loved ones that sued. In its quarterly report to shareholders, MGM resorts said it has $751 million of insurance coverage.

“Since February of 2019, we and counsel representing plaintiffs in all pending matters and purporting to represent substantially all claimants known to us have been, and continue to be, engaged in mediation efforts to resolve these matters,” the company told shareholders on May 7th. “After multiple mediation sessions over several months, progress has been made, and while mediation is ongoing, we believe it is reasonably possible that a settlement will be reached.”

Court records show as many as 22,000 victims could end up suing the company, however, so far 1,977 people have filed suits or have threatened to file. Most of the suits were done in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas and nine got filed in federal court. All said the MGM failed to provide security that could have prevented Paddock’s onslaught.

A final count could be available as early as the end of June.

Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com

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