Sharing insights and achievements in workers’ comp

By Kendra DePaul, BWC Other States Coverage Manager

In workers’ comp, we sure do love our acronyms. One of my favorites is the IAIABC which states for the International Association of Industrial Accident Board and Commission.

The IAIABC is an association that brings together workers’ compensation administrators, regulators and leaders to discuss policy and regulatory issues affecting workers’ compensation systems around the world.

Workers’ compensation is a state-based system and although rules and laws vary between states, we also have a lot in common. IAIABC’s annual convention provided an opportunity for the various states (and countries) to discuss common challenges, solutions and ways to impact the system.

The conference was held in Portland, Oregon this year and it was my first year attending. The topics discussed were familiar to those in the industry, including disability management and return to work, employee vs. independent contractor classification, promotion of health and safety, and the like.

A common topic that often comes up at these meetings is employee recruiting and how we are going to replace the knowledge and experience of many talented workers’ comp staff who may be retiring soon. The focus is often on how jobs in the workers’ compensation field have many good things to offer: stability, career advancement, opportunities for growth, the ability to help people, and the need to recruit millennials.

Since I am a millennial, I will say that all those things ring true and I very much enjoy spending my days in the workers’ comp world. I was honored this year to be recognized by IAIABC as a NextGen recipient.

The award recognizes professionals under the age of 40 who are making an impact on workers’ compensation.

As part of the award, I participated in a session titled A Conversation with the NextGen where we shared our thoughts and insights on the industry.

I had a great time meeting the other NextGen recipients and discussing the future of workers’ comp.

Although we are from different states and work in many different roles, there are common themes of needing to improve communication, leverage data and move towards a customer-focused system. There was agreement that for a lot of people, having a workers’ compensation claim is a very personal and potentially life-altering situation and it is important to not lose the people in the process.

If you’re looking for a career path in an industry on the verge of making important improvements, look no further!

Striving for world class

By Bill Teets, BWC Communications Director

It is no secret that successful organizations have a strong sense of direction and purpose. At the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, we want to be a world class insurer.

We have a clear mission to “protect Ohio’s workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses at fair rates.” Keep people safe. Make them better when they’re hurt. Do it effectively to not over-burden business. We also have a core set of values—service, simplicity and savings—that guide us.

While these are essential to being world class, they’re not enough. As communications director for BWC, I spend much of my time discovering all the great things happening here and sharing them with the outside world. There are so many stories to tell. Great investing has helped us return $3 billion in rebates over the last several years. Ohio’s injury rates are below the national average and our claims are at record lows. We’re finding ways to speed care to the injured and our nationally recognized pharmacy management program has drastically reduced opioid usage among injured workers.

What I’ve learned from telling these stories is that world class organizations have world class people. Our mission and values may guide us, but ultimately, it is the people that deliver on those promises. Several recent accolades prove my point.

Recently, our Chief of Enterprise Services, Shadya Yazback was named a C-Suite Award Winner by Columbus Business First. In their own words, “the C-Suite Awards recognizes Central Ohio’s top executives for their contribution and commitment to the community and their outstanding professional performance.”

This year’s 19 winners were selected by a panel of business school professors in Ohio. Among her achievements at BWC is the implementation of a multi-year, multi-million dollar replacement of our core claims and policy management systems—systems used by more than half our 1,800 employees to serve Ohio’s injured workers and employers. It was not always a smooth transition, but as the driver of the process she proved world-class people are able to adapt and keep an organization driving toward a common goal.

Kendra DePaul is another example of our world-class staff. Kendra has been named as one of 11 NexGen award winners by the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). She achieved this accolade for leading Ohio’s effort to build our Other States Coverage and managing the program. Because of this program, Ohio employers who do business in other states have options that make life easier when it comes to covering their employees.

That same organization awarded our pharmacy department the second annual IAIABC Innovation Award. That entry, “Saving Lives — Building a Model Pharmacy Program Amid a Deadly Epidemic” reflects Ohio’s efforts to reduce opioid abuse and excessive prescribing of the painkillers while building a pharmacy program that’s recognized as a leader in the industry today. Because of the pharmacy department efforts, led by John Hanna, who just retired, we have reduced the number of injured workers dependent on opioids from 8,000 in 2011 to 4,100 today. You can point to policies, but it was John and his people who took the initiative to make this reality.

Three world-class accomplishments. Three world-class people. And that’s just the tip of these iceberg. At BWC, we have 1,800 other dedicated individuals who work every day to help keep workplaces safe, get the injured back to their lives, and help reduce bureaucratic obstacles to their success. Not a bad place to work.

A year of blogging

The BWC Blog just reached its one year anniversary in October. We launched this blog back in 2015 and named it Prevention & Care to demonstrate our commitment to both preventing workplace injuries and caring for workers who are injured on the job. We’ve enjoyed sharing all the most recent updates from BWC, and helpful information and tips on a range of topics here on the blog in 2016.

Celebrating our first full year, we pulled our most popular blogs and found they cover a range of issues from fraud to safe outdoor grilling. Click through the top five to see our most popular blogs of the year:

  1. Lima business owner conspires with acquaintance to evade workers’ comp coverage
  2. Ohio border no longer a barrier
  3. There is no “all states” endorsement
  4. OSC16 – a look back in photos
  5. Before you start to grill – remember hank hill

Now we invite you to peruse the entire blog for much more you may have missed this year!

Thank you for following the BWC Blog. It’s been a great year and we look forward to digging even deeper into workers’ comp issues here on this blog in 2017.

Working in Workers’ Comp: understanding emerging issues affecting the industry

kendraBy Kendra DePaul, BWC Other States Coverage Manager

Last week, I attended the American Society of Workers Comp Professionals, Inc. (AMCOMP) fall meeting in New York City. AMCOMP is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to professional excellence in workers’ compensation. Their main goal is to make sure those working in the workers’ compensation industry are well educated in both workers compensation basic concepts and aware of emerging issues affecting the industry.

kendra-mtgThe agenda included a variety of interesting speakers including insurance regulators from Maine and Florida, the New York State Inspector General, and presidents of several insurance companies. They touched on many relevant topics from workers’ comp fraud to how the on-demand economy such as UBER and Air BnB will challenge and change the insurance market. Recently, a new product, Lemonade, was launched in New York that is an indicator of the changes to come. Lemonade is a peer-to-peer insurance company where New Yorkers can buy home owners’ or renters’ insurance from an application, cutting out much of the bureaucracy of traditional insurance. In addition, money that is not spent on paying claims can be donated to a charity of the insured choice. This is definitely an intriguing concept and one that will speak to today’s generation, especially those who buy Toms shoes, or other products which give back for every dollar they take in. This will be a company to watch as they could drive changes in the way people purchase their insurance and what they expect out of companies in terms of being good corporate citizens.

Mark Walls and Kimberly George of the Out Front Ideas webinar series presented a session on issues to watch. They’ve become well known for exploring critical workers’ comp related issues that are not given enough attention in other industry outlets.

out-front-ideas-pic

These topics include the use of predictive analytics, how automation may change the workforce, and how we may need to change our claims model to respond to the changes in culture, medical advances and communication preferences of injured workers. Those working in the workers’ comp know that we need to continue to monitor the way of the world and change with it, so that we are not left behind. Mark and Kimberly did an excellent job of discussing the issues we need to take on heads-first to stay relevant and respond to our customers’ needs.

The need to recruit young talent continued to be a theme at this conference. In a previous blog post on the American Association of Compensation Insurance Funds (AASCIF) annual conference, I mention that the state funds across the country, like BWC, worry that they will not be able to replace the employees that are retiring in large numbers.

The keynote speaker was Sean Kevelighan, President  & CEO of the Insurance Information Institute. He spoke about how insurance is a very stable industry providing millions of well-paying jobs, but most people fall into insurance professions by chance and it is still unusual that college graduates specifically plan on entering the industry. I can say that this is true of me, although I was never planning to work in workers’ compensation, I have found it to be interesting, challenging and rewarding. And part of the goal of the Insurance Information Institute is to assist in the promotion of insurance industry professions as often there are great opportunities for young people to work in a variety of interesting roles.

wc-book-kendraWhich brings me to the reason I attended the AMCOMP Fall meeting. AMCOMP has an educational certification program designed to provide those in the industry with a broader view and understanding of the system as a whole. You may have seen me reading a large book on my lunch hour titled Workers’ Compensation –the first one hundred years.

The book covered a variety of topics starting with the history of why workers’ compensation was created and is followed by information on claims handling, medical cost containment, risk management, rate-making, and more. The purpose of the education is to provide a holistic picture of workers’ compensation and gain an understanding how each individual component of the system works together and affects one another.

After successfully completing a mid-term and a final exam, I traveled to the fall meeting to graduate from the program and receive my certification. Not only can I now put a WCP® after my name, more importantly, I have a better understanding of all the pieces and parts of workers’ compensation and can appreciate the importance of looking at workers’ compensation as a system instead of the individual responsibilities of our everyday job.

kendra-cert

I am thankful for the opportunity to complete this education as I believe we owe it to the employers we insure and the injured workers we care for to stay educated on the ever changing world of workers’ comp.

BWC SID: Our Journey to Excellence – Part 1 of 3

0005 -- Administrator Buehrer -- Introductory Remarks -- IMG_2876In our constant quest for improvement, all members of the Bureau of Workers’
Compensation Special Investigations Department (SID) gathered on October 22, 2015 at our Mansfield service office to successfully complete annual in-service training. The theme of this year’s training event was “Our Journey to Excellence: Past, Present and Future.”

BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer welcomed the 125 attendees and opened the meeting. In his opening remarks, Administrator Buehrer praised the department’s more than 20 years of success, noting that throughout its history SID has generated more than $7 in savings for every budgetary dollar expended. He cited other SID performance results, lauding SID for having annually identified more than $55 million in savings to the State Insurance Fund during each of the last five consecutive years.

“Investigating fraud is a vital part of the workers’ compensation business,” Administrator Buehrer said. “Identifying fraud puts dollars back into the State Insurance Fund and supports our efforts to keep premiums as low as possible.”

SID Mtg 2015

Pictured left to right: James Wernecke, Jennifer Saunders, Tamela Dixon, Sarah Morrison and Steve Buehrer.

Following these remarks, Administrator Buehrer, Chief Legal Officer Sarah Morrison, SID Director James Wernecke and SID Assistant Director Jennifer Saunders presented service pins to 14 SID employees. These recipients included seven employees with 20 years of service and one, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tamela Dixon, with 25 years of service to the State of Ohio.

Subsequently, SID Director James Wernecke thanked Administrator Buehrer for his executive leadership, ongoing support for SID’s mission, and presence at the annual event. All of members of the Special Investigations Department joined Director Wernecke in thanking Administrator Buehrer for inspiring us to realize our departmental mission to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute workers’ compensation fraud.

In the coming two weeks, we will offer more details from October 22 training event. Stay tuned for part two of the series, which acknowledges specialized training we received at the event.

In the meantime, you can read the past posts about our SID Director here and our most recent annual report here.

Logan County fire chief pleads guilty to workers’ compensation fraud

Donald Detrick booking photoColumbus – The chief of the Bokecreek Fire Department in Logan County paid more than $25,000 in restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) this week after pleading guilty to workers’ compensation fraud. Donald Detrick appeared in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on Oct. 27 following a BWC investigation that found he worked three jobs while collecting workers’ compensation benefits.

“BWC’s goal is to assist injured workers so they can recover and return to their jobs as quickly as possible,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “The type of benefit Mr. Detrick was receiving is reserved for those whose injuries prevent them from returning to work. That’s why the money he has returned will be put back into our fund and be used to provide compensation and medical care to truly injured workers.”

BWC’s Special Investigations Department opened an investigation after receiving an allegation that Detrick, of West Mansfield, may be working while receiving benefits for a workplace injury. The investigation revealed that Detrick worked as the fire chief for Bokecreek Township in Logan County, fire safety coordinator for York Township in Logan County and as a certified water inspector for Midwest Express while collecting temporary total disability benefits.

Prior to the plea, Detrick paid $25,586.40 to the Clerk of Courts in order to pay in full his restitution of $22,155.04 and investigative costs of $3,431.36. A judge sentenced him to community control for six months under the condition that he pay the restitution and investigative costs, have no new convictions, and pay all court costs. He will serve six months in jail if he does not meet these terms.

To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov. Check out our latest cases at ohiobwcfraud.wordpress.com, and see what workers’ compensation fraud looks like in our fraud awareness video on YouTube.