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Home Inventory Week sparks two tasks to save time, money, and stress following a disaster - 09/18/18

(Salem) – More than 500,000 acres have been burned, and approximately 4,000 Oregonians have been warned to evacuate their homes this wildfire season. Over 300 earthquakes have also shaken the state this year, including a 6.2 magnitude quake just off the coast in August. These alarming facts mean it is critical for Oregonians to get prepared for both natural and human-caused disasters.

National Preparedness Month has arrived, and Sept. 16-22 is Home Inventory Week. This week is designated to an often overlooked part of disaster preparation, protecting your personal property.

To recognize this week, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation encourages Oregonians to do two simple tasks that will save time, money, and stress when disaster strikes:

  1. Build a home inventory – Take video or photos of each room in your home, paying close attention to walls, drawers, closets, and storage areas. Recalling your personal property is a daunting task following a disaster. A home inventory eases the post-disaster stress, and enables your insurance company to move forward with processing your claim.   
  2. Review your insurance coverage – Take time to discuss your policies with your insurance company or agent. Make sure you have the right coverage and know what to expect when you file a claim for disasters such as fire, earthquake, flood, tornado, theft, and ice storms.

“These simple projects are easy to do, and should be an essential part of every Oregonian’s disaster prep,” said Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi. “Home Inventory Week is an ideal time to add these money-saving, stress-reducing tasks to your to-do list.”

Oregonians are encouraged to visit dfr.oregon.gov/preparenow for videos, apps, and resources to help complete these simple tasks. The site also provides social media tools to help residents share their experience and encourage their families, friends, and neighbors to get prepared as well.

 

The division is joined in this effort by the League of Oregon Cities, Oregon Sheriffs Association, Oregon Office of Emergency Management, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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About DCBS: The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov. 

About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov and http://dfr.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx.

 

Southern Oregon event to focus on workplace safety, health - 09/14/18

(Salem) – A three-day event in southern Oregon will feature a variety of workshops and presentations designed to help employers and workers improve on-the-job safety and health. Topics include everything from fall protection and safety committees to forklift safety and combustible dust.

Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) encourages employers, workers, and safety professionals to mark their calendars for the Oct. 16-18 Southern Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Conference at the Ashland Hills Hotel and Suites in Ashland.

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, Bob Edwards, a human and organizational performance consultant, will deliver the keynote presentation, “Failure and Success: They Aren’t that Different!” Edwards draws on a range of experiences from the military and corporate worlds to show organizations that, when people make errors, it’s important to shift the focus from blaming them to examining the systems in which they work.

Other conference topics include:

  • Hearing conservation and noise control
  • Chemical hazards
  • Scaffold user safety awareness
  • Advanced accident investigation for safety committees
  • Prevention of heat stress injuries and illnesses
  • Recordkeeping update

The Southern Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals and Oregon OSHA are co-sponsoring the conference. Registration for the conference, on Wednesday and Thursday, is $175. Optional pre-conference workshops range from $50 to $130. For more information or to register go to http://safetyseries.cvent.com/southern18.

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit www.osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov.

 

Grant-funded community groups and insurance agents get set to help Oregonians enroll in health coverage - 09/11/18

(Salem) – The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace has awarded more than $795,000 in grants to eight community groups and 34 insurance agencies. The awardees will use the grants to publicize the upcoming health insurance open enrollment period, and to help Oregonians enroll in coverage through HealthCare.gov and other programs.

For most people who buy their own health insurance, open enrollment is the only time of year to sign up for a health plan or switch plans. Open enrollment for 2019 coverage will run from Nov.1 through Dec. 15.

“Every year more Oregonians enroll in coverage through HealthCare.gov,” said Chiqui Flowers, administrator of the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace. “The dedication and expertise of partners like these grantees help make that possible.”

The state selected grantees after a competitive process. Applicants were judged on multiple criteria, including their demonstrated ties to community networks, ability to reach underserved populations, and capacity to serve consumers whether they are eligible for HealthCare.gov plans or other programs, such as the Oregon Health Plan or Medicare.

The nonprofit groups—called community partners—receiving a total of $457,265 in grants are:
• Asian Health & Service Center, Portland
• Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon – Community United Funds and the OR-COFA Project, Portland and Salem
• Cascade AIDS Project, Portland
• Centro Latino Americano, Eugene
• Interface Network, Salem
• Northeast Oregon Network, La Grande
• Project Access NOW, Portland
• Rinehart Clinic, Wheeler

Insurance agents—called partner agents—receiving a total of $338,000 in grants are:
• Aaron Burns Insurance, Eugene
• Abel Insurance Agency, Coos Bay, Gold Beach, Florence, and Newport
• Bancorp Insurance, La Pine
• Barlow Insurance, McMinnville
• Bennett Insurance Agency, Enterprise
• Boone Insurance Associates, Eugene
• Bredimus Insurance Agency, Salem
• Carney Insurance, Ashland
• Central Financial Services of Oregon, Bend
• Chehalem Insurance Associates, Newberg
• Country Financial, Sisters
• Exchange Insurance Services, Hillsboro and St. Helens
• FG Insurance, Portland
• HE Cross Company, Portland
• Health Insurance Place, Grants Pass
• Health Plans in Oregon, Portland
• HealthPlans NW, Milwaukie
• Healthwise Insurance Planning, Portland
• Heathy, Wealthy & Wise, Portland
• High Desert Insurance, Bend
• iCover Oregon, Albany
• Insurance Lounge, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Medford, and Grants Pass
• Pacific View Financial, Salem
• Klamath Financial, Klamath Falls
• Linda Dugan Insurance, Astoria
• Matthew Woodbridge Insurance, Salem
• Pfaff-Karren Insurance, Independence
• Premier NW Insurance, Oregon City and Sandy
• Revell Coy Insurance, Hood River and The Dalles
• RJS & Associates Insurance Services, Philomath
• The Health Insurance Store, Roseburg
• The Simmons Agency, Hermiston
• Tomlin Benefit Planning, Eugene
• Valley Insurance, La Grande

Community partners and insurance agents help Oregonians sign up for insurance and apply for financial assistance. Their help is free of charge. To make an appointment with a partner or agent, go to OregonHealthCare.gov/gethelp.

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The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace is the state-level partner to HealthCare.gov and a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). For more information, go to OregonHealthCare.gov.

Workers' compensation costs to drop for sixth-straight year - 09/10/18

Salem – Oregon employers next year, on average, will pay $1.12 per $100 of payroll for workers’ compensation insurance, down from $1.23 in 2018, under a proposal by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). That figure covers workers’ compensation claims costs, assessments, and insurer profit and expenses.

This will mark the sixth year in a row that businesses will experience an average decrease in their workers’ compensation costs. Those costs have steadily declined over the years – even as workers continue to receive strong benefits – because of Oregon’s long-running success in managing the workers’ compensation system.

“Everyone from employers and workers to insurers and government has played a role in making workplaces safer and keeping business costs low,” said Cameron Smith, DCBS director. “As the numbers show, Oregon’s comprehensive approach continues to pay off.”

Part of Oregon’s success stems from efforts by the Workers’ Compensation Division. Those efforts include enforcing requirements that employers carry insurance for their workers, keeping medical costs under control, and helping injured workers return to work sooner and earn their pre-injury wages. Another part is Oregon OSHA’s focus on preventing on-the-job injuries by enforcing workplace safety and health rules, and advising employers about how to improve worker safety and health.

Employers’ cost for workers’ compensation insurance covers the pure premium and insurer profit and expenses, plus the premium assessment. Employers also pay the Workers’ Benefit Fund assessment, which is a cents-per-hour-worked rate.

The pure premium rate – filed by a national rate-setting organization and approved by DCBS – is the base rate insurers use to determine how much employers must pay for medical claims and lost wages. Under DCBS’s proposal for next year, the pure premium would drop by an average 9.7 percent. In fact, the pure premium will have declined by an average of 40 percent during the 2013 to 2019 period.

Pure premium is the key factor behind annual cost changes. The decrease is an average, so an individual employer may see a larger or smaller decrease, no change, or even an increase depending on the employer’s own industry, claims experience, and payroll. Also, pure premium does not take into account the varying expenses and profit of insurers. 

Driving the average decrease in the pure premium are lower medical care costs and less severe claims. Underpinning the steady decline in pure premium are the successful efforts of the Workers’ Compensation Division, Oregon OSHA, the Workers’ Compensation Board – which resolves disputes over the state’s workers’ compensation and workplace safety laws – and injured worker and small business advocacy services.

Those programs are funded by the premium assessment.

The premium assessment is a percentage of the workers’ compensation insurance premium employers pay. It is added to the premium. It would increase from 7.4 percent this year to 7.8 percent in 2019. The increase is needed to partially offset the decline in pure premium and to keep pace with a growing economy. This modest increase maintains stable funding for state workers’ compensation  regulation and worker protection programs that preserve historically low costs.

The Workers’ Benefit Fund assessment provides benefit increases to permanently disabled workers and to families of workers who died from a workplace injury or disease. It also supports Oregon’s efforts to help injured workers return to work sooner – through incentive programs to employers – and earn their pre-injury wages.

The fund’s revenue comes from a cents-per-hour-worked assessment. It would decrease from 2.8 cents per hour worked in 2018 to 2.4 cents per hour worked in 2019. The fund is healthy, made so by a growing economy, which allows the rate to be reduced.

The decrease in the pure premium is effective Jan. 1, 2019, but employers will see the changes when they renew their policies in 2019. The assessment changes are effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Oregon’s workers’ compensation premium rates have ranked low nationally for many years. Oregon had the seventh least expensive rates in 2016, according to a nationally recognized  biennial study conducted by DCBS. That was an improvement from Oregon’s ranking as the ninth least expensive state the last time the study was done, in 2014.

The following chart summarizes all of the changes and includes the date, time, and place of the assessment public hearings: https://www.oregon.gov/DCBS/cost/Documents/wc-summary.pdf

Annual Oregon average pure premium rate changes and average changes by industry: https://www.oregon.gov/DCBS/cost/Documents/pure-premium-rate.pdf

More information about Oregon workers’ compensation costs:  http://www.oregon.gov/DCBS/cost/Pages/index.aspx

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The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, visit http://www.dcbs.oregon.gov/.

Oregon GOSH Conference welcomes safety award nominations - 09/06/18

(Salem) – Much of the work to build and maintain safe and healthy workplaces happens behind the scenes, with unsung heroes – including individuals and organizations – dedicating themselves to pinpointing and eliminating hazards.

Now is the time to shine a spotlight on their extraordinary work to send workers home safe to their families at the end of every work day.

Nominations are being accepted for the 2019 Oregon GOSH Awards, which will honor organizations and individuals who make exceptional contributions to workplace safety and health. The awards will be presented March 6, 2019, as part of the Oregon Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health (GOSH) Conference, slated for March 4-7. The conference – the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and one of the largest in the U.S. – will be held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

Nominees will compete with like-sized organizations in the following categories:

  • Workplace safety program
  • Association
  • Safety committee/team
  • Innovation
  • Safety/health/wellness advocate (individual or team)
  • Labor representative
  • Safety and health professional (industry specific)

Applications are available at www.oregongosh.com/awards and are due Oct. 26, 2018.

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA), a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, is partnering with the Columbia-Willamette Chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals to sponsor the conference.

For information about the awards, call Karen Blythe at 503-618-8871 or email egon.GOSH@oregon.gov">Oregon.GOSH@oregon.gov.

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit www.osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov.

 

Does health care paperwork make your head spin? Cure the confusion in a workshop on health insurance basics - 09/05/18

(Salem) – Deadlines, deductibles, networks, and more: They are important aspects of health insurance, but figuring out what they mean for your family’s coverage can be tricky. That’s why the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace is coming to Pendleton with “Health Insurance 101,” a free, 90-minute workshop on understanding health insurance.

The event, which is open to the public, will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18, in the community room at Pendleton’s City Hall, 500 SW Dorian Ave.

We’ll take the mystery out of health-insurance lingo, and help you become a confident health care consumer. An expert from state government will cover these topics:
•    Types of health insurance, including Medicare, the Oregon Health Plan, and individual and family plans
•    Eligibility for financial assistance
•    How to prepare to enrollment

To attend, register in advance by visiting bit.ly/0918Pendleton101 or emailing info.marketplace@oregon.gov.

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The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov. Follow DCBS on Twitter: twitter.com/OregonDCBS. Receive consumer help and information on insurance, mortgages, investments, workplace safety, and more.

Does health care paperwork make your head spin? Cure the confusion in a workshop on health insurance basics - 09/05/18

(Salem) – Deadlines, deductibles, networks, and more: They are important aspects of health insurance, but figuring out what they mean for your family’s coverage can be tricky. That’s why the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace is coming to Medford with “Health Insurance 101,” a free, 90-minute workshop on understanding health insurance.

The event, which is open to the public, will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24, at the Medford branch of the Jackson County Library, 205 S. Central Ave.

We’ll take the mystery out of health-insurance lingo, and help you become a confident health care consumer. An expert from state government will cover these topics:
•    Types of health insurance, including Medicare, the Oregon Health Plan, and individual and family plans
•    Eligibility for financial assistance
•    How to prepare to enrollment

To attend, register in advance by calling 855-268-3767 (toll-free) or emailing info.marketplace@oregon.gov.

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The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov. Follow DCBS on Twitter: twitter.com/OregonDCBS. Receive consumer help and information on insurance, mortgages, investments, workplace safety, and more.