Marsh & McLennan Agency Blog

Opioid Litigation: Insurance and Risk Management Considerations

The United States is confronting an opioid epidemic that is taking thousands of lives annually and causing billions of dollars in economic losses. While many are working to address the health effects of the crisis, plaintiff attorneys are litigating the matter, seeking monetary damages against various parties.City, state, and county governments across the US have filed lawsuits against organizations associated with the manufacturing, distribution, and/or sale of opioids. Litigation targets — including pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, prescribing physicians, and pharmacy benefit managers — must develop a comprehensive approach and practice to address and defend against opioid-related claims, as well as maximize any potential insurance coverage.

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Emerging Blockchain Applications in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical industry regularly participates in the development of new drugs, filing patents and funding clinical trials. Blockchain offers new methods for documenting proof of work, user validation and smart contracts. Health care facilities are rethinking the ways in which they manage, record and store data; blockchain has the potential to completely transform the industry, offering transparency and security to everyone involved in pharmaceutical transactions. Here are four interesting blockchain applications that are emerging in the pharmacy industry today.

  1. Improving the Speed and Trustworthiness of Clinical Trials

Getting a new drug tested and approved by the FDA requires a long, complicated and expensive process. Some drugs take years and billions of dollars for approval. Clinical trials generate a lot of data that must be shared. The more people that are working on the trials, the more complex and expensive the process. Establishing that a new drug is safe is a scientific challenge but also a data challenge as well. Blockchain could have a major impact on the integrity of the data from start to finish throughout the process. Blockchain technology ensures the trustworthiness of the data through cryptographic validation of each and every transaction, and, because every transaction is connected, the history of every data process is easy to follow due to transaction linkages and timestamps.

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DOL Releases Final Rule Expanding Association Health Plans

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a final rule expanding the opportunity of unrelated employers of all sizes (but particularly small employers) to offer employment-based health insurance through Association Health Plans (AHPs). Significantly, the final rule applies “large group” coverage rules under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to qualifying AHPs.

The final rule confirms that AHPs may be formed by employers in the same trade, industry, line or businesses, or profession. They may also be formed based on a geographic test such as a common state, city, county or same metropolitan area (even if the metropolitan area includes more than one State).

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Be Wise with Your Eyes: Treating Common Eye Conditions

If you’ve ever experienced any type of eye problem or irritation, you know how extremely uncomfortable it can be. Fortunately, many common eye maladies usually go away on their own or can be managed with self-care. Over-the-counter treatments like artificial tears, ointments and ocular decongestants can help with dryness, itchiness or excessive watering of the eye. However, if you or anyone in your family is showing signs of an eye infection, you should seek medical help right away.

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Recognizing hidden dangers: 25 steps to a Safer Office

It’s fairly obvious that safety and health hazards can exist on worksites filled with heavy machinery and equipment, where employees often are required to engage in strenuous manual labor.

A job where most of the work tasks are completed while sitting in a chair in a climate-controlled office building would seem less fraught with danger. However, a surprising number of hazards can be present in an office setting.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80,410 private-industry office and administrative workers suffered on-the-job injuries in 2008. Many of these injuries could have been prevented had workers or supervisors recognized the risks and implemented simple workplace modifications to help mitigate them.

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Machine Learning and AI are Transforming the Financial Services Industry

Since the 1950’s progressive thinkers have imagined that robots would revolutionize the world someday. Today, it seems that artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the landscape of business, and it is with much more than robotics. Innovative new AI technologies are transforming a wide variety of industries, including financial services.

In a study titled “Worldwide Semiannual Cognitive Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide” from International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide revenues for artificial intelligence systems are predicted to reach $12.0 billion in 2017, an increase of 59.1% since 2016. The infusion of AI solutions into all industries has resulted in significant growth opportunities. Some of the applications are common across many industries, such as automated customer service functions.

One of the most interesting developments in AI is machine learning. Machine learning allows computers to learn without being specifically programmed to do so, equipping machines to gain important insights from multiple data sources by using statistical theory and formidable computer processors. Machine learning is extremely useful because huge volumes of data can be extracted cheaply and accurately. It also helps traditional banks to stay competitive with challenger banks. Continue reading…

NSC Urges Organizations to Invest in Worker Sleep Health

As most parts of the country prepare to turn clocks ahead one hour this weekend, the National Safety Council is cautioning employers that workers in certain positions and industries who already have a higher risk of being drowsy may be even more tired than usual on Monday.

Shift workers, medical staff, emergency responders, military personnel, workers older than 40 and transportation professionals – especially those who work rotating or night shifts – always are at increased risk for circadian misalignment, which occurs when we force ourselves to stay awake at hours when our bodies believe we should be sleeping, according to a new report from NSC.

Research shows that fatal motor vehicle crashes increase on the Monday following the time change, the report states.
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How to Make Healthy Habits Stick

Healthy choices can have a dramatic effect on your life.  Indeed, healthy habits like eating fruits and vegetables and getting regular exercise not only makes you feel better, but they can also reduce your risk for the most common and preventable health problems—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

Maybe you’ve already tried to eat better, get more exercise or sleep, quit smoking, or reduce stress. It’s not always easy. However, research shows that change is possible, and there are proven strategies you can use to set yourself up for success.

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Prescription Opioid Risks to the Workplace Explored at RIMS 2018

When the White House declared opioid use a national Public Health Emergency under federal law in 2017, businesses began reviewing their policies and making efforts to curb their employees’ abuse of the drug in its prescribed form. This escalating risk to organizations is why the business impact of prescription opioid use was such a hot topic at RIMS 2018, where a session on April 17 focused on the practical and bottom-line costs of workforce use of prescription opioids. In a session the next day, attendees learned how liability policies are responding to government-led lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, and how to prepare for similar suits brought against other industries. Continue reading…

IRS Issues Affordability Percentage Adjustment for 2019

In Rev. Proc. 2018-34, the IRS released the inflation adjusted amounts for 2019 relevant to determining whether employer-sponsored coverage is “affordable” for purposes of the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA’s”) employer shared responsibility provisions and premium tax credit program.  For plan years beginning in 2019, the affordability percentage is 9.86% of an employee’s household income or applicable safe harbor.

Read the full compliance update…