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News and Updates

Category: Ohio BWC

Are Missing Group Retro Refunds Complicating Your Budget for 2022?

Posted By Brandy King
November 09, 2021 Category: Ohio BWC, Workers Comp, Group Retro, Retro Refunds, 2018 Policy Year, PEO

Back in August, we told you that Ohio BWC wouldn’t be paying Group Retrospective refunds to employers who participated in Retro during the 2018 and 2019 policy years.  For the past 12 years, many businesses have counted on those checks to budget for the coming year. Normally, Retro refunds would have showed up last month (October), but this time those employers were left empty-handed.  Companies that were anticipating tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands, in some cases) in Retro Refunds are now faced with an end of year shortfall and difficulty budgeting.  Our actuarial department estimates that Group Retro refund totals for all participating policyholders during the 2018 and 2019 policy years would have been as follows: •    $190,000,000 for the 2018 policy year   •    $155,000,000 for the 2019 policy year  That’s $345 Million in refunds not being paid back! If you are concerned with how the state is managing your premium dollars - and more importantly, your refunds - you have options. Self-insuring is one option, or you can look into a partnership with SuretyHR through our Self-Insured PEO program. This provides a lot of the same savings and benefits of self-insuring for workers’ comp, but without the risk and financial burden of directly paying excess

BWC to Host Open Forum on ACES

Posted By Brandy King
October 07, 2021 Category: ACES, Ohio BWC, Workers Compensation, Ohio BWC, Ohio Workers Compensation, Underwriting, ACES, MIRA II, EMR, Insurance Premiums

On October 14, BWC will host an open forum with TPAs to discuss the impact of their new reserve system called ACES.  Spooner’s goal is to convince BWC that this system is overestimating reserves for lost time claims (as well as some medical only claims) that will have a dramatic effect on Group Retro refunds for the 2020 policy year and future years. This could also have a negative impact on employers’ EMRs for the 2023 policy year. BWC implemented this new system of calculating reserves in January 2021. As early as June, we began noticing reserves jumping to nearly 4-5 times what they would have been under the previous system and industry standard, MIRA II. We shared another update in August, after reviewing the first round of results for 2020 Group Retro and finding that 68% of pools could face a first year assessment, as opposed to getting a refund from the program.  These open forums held by BWC are a platform for TPAs to voice concerns over certain policy and procedure changes that may negatively impact Ohio businesses. Spooner is an Ohio business, and our family of companies make it a priority to fight for policy changes that will have a positive impact on the business community that we’re so proud to be a part

Ohio BWC Expands Dividend To Employers with Late 2019 True-Ups

Posted By Brandy King
October 07, 2021 Category: Ohio BWC, Workers Compensation, Ohio BWC Dividends, Rebate, True Up, Ohio Business

Some previously ineligible Ohio employers will soon be receiving dividends from Ohio BWC totaling 372.46% of their 2019 policy year premiums. Gov. Mike DeWine made a request to BWC’s board of directors to distribute dividends to roughly 3,000 policyholders who had not initially met the eligibility requirement of completing their True Up in a timely fashion. BWC announced on September 24 that their board had moved to approve this measure, releasing another $30 million in funds to be divided amongst these remaining employers.  Historically, when BWC has announced a dividend – a policy must be current and in good standing to receive their portion, which includes having completed their “True Up” process prior to the August 15 deadline each year.  Businesses that fall under this eligibility expansion will be contacted directly by BWC regarding the dividend. Remember that any current premium balance due will be deducted from the dividend amount before the check is issued.  BWC has issued over $9 billion in dividends to Ohio employers since

2020 Policy Year True Up Reminder!

Posted By Brandy King
August 02, 2021 Category: OHio BWC, Ohio Workers Comp, True Up, True Up Reporting, Payroll Reporting, Bwc Compliance, True Up Deadline

It’s a wrap on the 2020 policy year, which means you should be submitting your company’s annual payroll True Up to BWC. True Up is a process required by Ohio BWC at the end of each policy year, where your premiums based on projected payroll are balanced with premiums based on your actual payroll for the past year. Compliance with both the reporting and payment of any balances affects your company’s eligibility for most savings programs.  The “deadline” to submit your payroll true-up reports on the Ohio BWC website is August 15th – but there are some finer details to consider. August 15 falls on a Sunday, which makes the deadline Friday August 13, realistically speaking. We’ve also learned that historically, you should allow 24 hours for posting – which makes the real deadline Thursday August 12.   You will also need to pay any applicable balances if your payroll was higher than what the Ohio BWC estimated for the period of July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Balances are expected to be paid during the designated reporting period, but there is a small grace period on both reporting and payments. If you are unable to pay the entire balance at the end of the reporting process, please note that any future payments will first be applied to your delinquent True Up Balance before being applied to your premium installments. Payment plans for True Up balances are only available through the Ohio Attorney

BWC Excludes COVID-19 Claims from Experience

Posted By Brandy King
August 02, 2021 Category: Ohio BWC, Workers Compensation, Experience Period, COVID 19, Coronavirus, COVID 19 Workers Comp Claims

Ohio BWC recently amended a portion of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) as it applies to employers’ experience periods. A subsection was added to 1423-17-03 (subsection 4 of Section G) with the following language: “Actual losses where COVID-19 was contracted by an employee arising during the period between the emergency declared by Executive Order 2020-01D, issued March 9, 2020 and July 2, 2021 which is fourteen days after the executive order was repealed, shall be excluded from employer's experience for the purpose of experience rating calculations.” BWC’s Board of Directors noted in its Executive Summary on the proposal that pandemics are typically considered catastrophes due to scope and severity, and are typically excluded from the experience rating process. This comes as a huge relief to thousands of Ohio employers who had workers’ compensation claims filed to their policy as a result of employees presumably contracting COVID-19 while on the job. Even with contact tracing, it is difficult to determine where an employee may have contracted the virus – therefore difficult to determine the employer’s level of liability. Experience Rating refers to the calculation of an employer’s payroll and loss history within a certain period of time, and is used to determine future rates (insurance premiums) as well as EMR (experience modifier rate). You can view the entirety of the ORC entry

Group Retro Updates: 2018, 2019 & 2020

Posted By Brandy King
August 02, 2021 Category: Ohio Bwc, Group Retro, Group Retrospective Rating, ACES, MIRA, Reserves, Group Retro Assessment

We promised to keep you informed on the status of 2018 and 2019 policy year refunds from BWC’s Group Retro program.  As it stands, no employers enrolled during those years will be receiving any refunds. Typically, in the fall of 2021 Group Retro participants should be receiving your first refund from the 2019 policy year and your second refund from the 2018 year. It’s important to understand that if these refunds are normally included in your budgeting process for the coming year, you should not factor that in. For more info on why BWC chose not to release these funds, and what Spooner is doing to help Ohio employers, check out our June blog entry on these missing Group Retro Refunds. If your company was enrolled in Group Retro for the 2020 year, your first refund will be paid out in the fall of 2022.  Since the 2020 policy year recently ended, we also have an updated outlook on those returns. Out of the 45 total Private Employer Group Retro pools in Ohio, data from BWC shows that 31 of them will have an assessment for their first year (due in fall 2022). This means that companies in that pool will be billed by BWC for a portion of 2020 premiums instead of receiving a refund. This is largely due to BWC moving to a system called ACES to determine reserves on claims as of July 1, 2020. We believe BWC is open to discussing changes to some of the variables used to calculate refunds in response to the impact ACES is having on 2020 Group Retro

Surety HR: Not Your Average PEO

Posted By Brandy King
June 11, 2021 Category: PEO, Professional Employer Organization, Workers Compensation, Ohio BWC, Pros And Cons Of PEOs, Payroll, HR, Safety, Outsourcing, FMLA, Unemployment, Benefits

When we talk to prospects about Surety HR, our self-insured PEO (professional employer organization), we get a lot of very different reactions - confusion, curiosity, blank stares and occasionally – a crossed-arm refusal to hear anything else about it. We knew when we began building our PEO that several employers have a bad taste in their mouth about PEOs, usually after having (or hearing about) a bad experience.  That’s one of the many reasons we sought out these opinions to help build our framework based on what employers feel does or does not work.  The biggest thing we want to make clear is that we are not our competition.  We don’t charge based on a percentage of payroll, baking everything together so that you’ll never really know how much you’re paying for any of our services. When employers are looking for some of the solutions a PEO can provide, they are not always looking to move all their employment-related needs under one umbrella.  This is why larger, mature, and sophisticated companies have avoided entering into a PEO relationship.  Surety HR is a sister company of Spooner Incorporated – an unrivaled TPA and consulting firm with less than 2% client turnover.  Because of this foundation, our focus is more on lowering workers’ comp premiums instead of bundling services that you may not need or want.  It also means if and when you decide it’s time to exit the PEO, the process will b

Where is BWC's Group Retro Program Headed?

Posted By Brandy King
June 11, 2021 Category: OHio BWC, Workers Comp, Group Retro, ACES, Claim Reserves, Group Retro Assessments

  In our last few blogs and newsletters, we’ve been updating you on the changes we’re noticing in Ohio BWC’s Group Retro program.  Initially, there was the withholding of 2018 and 2019 refunds (six total payouts for participating employers). Then, we began noticing the overall degradation of retro refunds.  Most recently, we’ve noticed how BWC’s changes to their claim reserve calculations are having a tremendous impact on the performance of Group Retro pools.  For those of you who didn’t read our post about reserve calculations, here’s an abridged version: workers’ comp claims have a dollar amount reserved at the onset of a claim (yes, even if you do salary continuation) for additional funds that the insurer thinks it may end up costing.  BWC’s method of calculating reserves changed in January 2021 and Spooner’s tracking of these trends show reserves increasing as much as 1900% on some claims. Why does it matter? That pretend money is treated like real money when your experience is calculated for the next year, determining your premiums. That $5000 ankle sprain is now a $29,000 ankle sprain, and the insurer (BWC) will recoup their losses from you accordingly.  We’ve been tracking the impact these reserves have on Group Retro, and it shows a vast majority of the pools underperforming.  Some competitors even show the possibility of an assessment, meaning that policyholder

Another Successful Open Enrollment for Spooner Medical Administrators

Posted By Brandy King
June 11, 2021 Category: MCO, Open Enrollment, Medical Costs, Workers Compensation, Managed Care Organizations, Ohio BWC

Our MCO, Spooner Medical Administrators, had another successful open enrollment this past May! We realize that marketing can be very cut-throat (and not always transparent) during the short biennial enrollment period, and other MCOs may have offered you the moon to stray from SMAI.  Despite what other MCOs and the BWC’s report card might say about SMAI - we continue to have controlled, steady growth and incredible retention.  The Spooner family of companies would like to thank the thousands of businesses that chose to retain SMAI as their MCO, and the hundreds of new companies that chose SMAI as their new partner.  We look forward to continuing to build our relationships with you and are thankful for our 12th consecutive successful

Safety Council Program Update

Posted By Brandy King
June 11, 2021 Category: Ohio Bwc, Bwc Safety Council, Safety Council Program, PAR, Workers' Comp, Premium Savings,

Ohio BWC’s Safety Council Rebate Program will remain suspended for the 2021 policy year (7/1/21-6/30/22).  While many safety councils are still hosting web-based meetings each month, no rebates will be paid. This means attendance is not mandatory, but Spooner still urges its clients to participate in safety council events to stay educated and use the info to help reduce incidents.  •    All meetings will continue to be virtual •    There will be no semi-annual reports collected in 2021 •    BWC will host two virtual statewide safety council meetings  •    No rebates will be paid While the Safety Council Rebate is unavailable in the coming year, there are other cost-saving programs available through BWC that may be worth exploring.  Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program – A reimbursement program for substance use policy development, training and drug testing  (currently available in participating counties but soon to rollout statewide) Better You, Better Ohio! –  A health and wellness program where employees can earn incentives  Policy Activity Rebate (PAR)  - A customizable plan that allows employers to earn a rebate. Employers enrolled in Group Rating, Group Retro, Individual Retro and Deductible program are not eligible for

Why We Fight (For Your Group Retro Refunds)

Posted By Brandy King
June 11, 2021 Category: Ohio BWC, Group Retro, Refunds, Dividends, 2018 PY, 2019 PY, State Fund

  Many Ohio employers have rejoiced over the big checks issued by Ohio BWC in the last few years, a boast that the state’s strategies that have yielded enough to share dividends with policyholders. While it’s easy to understand the excitement when you’re getting five, six, or even seven figure checks from BWC – we all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Many of the businesses gladly cashed those checks not realizing that Ohio BWC wouldn’t be sending checks for refunds earned from the Group Retrospective (retro) program for the 2018 and 2019 policy years.  Employers who participate in the Group Retro program are rebated after the policy year ends, based on their group’s actual performance throughout the year. The pool establishes a premium level throughout the policy year - and when the actual losses come in lower than that, the consortium members are rebated their share of the difference.  While no vendors were provided with the total that Group Retro refunds would have been for those years, Spooner’s actuarial department estimates that Group Retro refund totals for all participating policyholders during those years would have been as follows: •    $190,000,000 for the 2018 policy year   •    $155,000,000 for the 2019 policy year  These projections include what would be all three years of refund payments for each policy year, not just the first y

Preparing for True Up Following an Unprecedented Year

Posted By Brandy King
April 02, 2021 Category: Payroll, Ohio BWC, True Up, BWC Premiums, Reporting, Compliance

Starting July 1st, 2020, the BWC reduced every employer’s payroll by 20%. They did so under the assumption that all employers experienced slow-downs, lay-offs and closures during the initial impact of COVID-19 on Ohio businesses. However, they did not confirm these reductions with policyholders – and we know that not all businesses experienced a decrease.  This reduction might result in an unexpected True Up balance July. True Up is a process required by Ohio BWC at the end of each policy year, where your premiums based on projected payroll are balanced with premiums based on your actual payroll for the past year. Compliance with both the reporting and payment of any balances affects your company’s eligibility for most savings programs. If your actual payroll was higher than projected, you will be expected to pay that balance to Ohio BWC no later than August 15th. If you are unable to pay the lump sum at that time, please note that any future premium installments will first be applied to your delinquent True Up Balance before being applied to your premium installments. Payment plans for True Up balances are only available through the Ohio Attorney General’s office following an application process.  With the final installments for the 2020-2021 policy year being billed any day now, it is unlikely that you have time to make adjustments prior to the end of the policy year on 6/30/21.  However, you can run a mock True Up based on

BWC Withholds 2018 & 2019 Group Retro Refunds

Posted By Brandy King
April 02, 2021 Category: Ohio BWC, Group Retro, Group Retro Refunds Withheld, Ohio BWC Dividends, 2018 PY, 2019 PY

The BWC is not going to pay out 2018 & 2019 Group Retro refunds this fall.  They have decided the dividend rebates issued for these policy years will take the place of 2018 and 2019 Group Retro refunds.  We do not believe the dividend proposal passed by the Board of Directors gives the BWC the authority to eliminate Group Retro refunds.  Spooner Incorporated is appealing this decision with the BWC, but we may not be able to do it alone.  Please email Jennifer Kantorowski if you would like to join us in the fight to get the BWC to release the 2018 and 2019 Group Retro refunds this fall. Jennifer can be reached at

Are You Losing Business Because of a High EMR?

Posted By Brandy King
April 01, 2021 Category: EMR, Mod, Safety, Ohio BWC, Safety Score, DART, OSHA, Construction, WPAFB

  If so, Surety HR’s Self-Insured Professional Employer Organization (PEO) may be able to reduce your EMR (Experience Modifier Rate).  Many industries require businesses to submit their EMR to bid on both private and public projects and contract renewals.  If your EMR is too high, you may not even be able to bid on a specific project.  This is predominant in construction, but also affects employers in manufacturing, logistics and several other industries. Typically any vendor on a federal site such as an Air Force Base will be required to submit their EMR as well.  If your company has an EMR over 1.00 and it's costing you jobs, let’s talk!   If you have concerns about your EMR, please email Brian Davis at

Changes in Reserve Calculations

Posted By Brandy King
April 01, 2021 Category: Ohio BWC, Reserves, Claims Costs, Group Retro

Effective July 1, 2020, Ohio BWC implemented a new reserve system called ACES.  Based on a large sampling of claims, we’ve found that this system can drastically increase reserves for future claims costs - which will then impact premiums and Group Retro performance. A reserve is a dollar amount placed on every claim, in which the insurer (BWC) “reserves” assumed future costs within the claim. The concept of a reserve is considered standard practice in workers’ compensation insurance, even for self-insured employers. Once a reserve is set, it will not leave the claim until the claimant has ceased medical treatment for at least six (6) months. The only other way to eliminate a reserve is through the process of a settlement. If a claim has a reserve when Ohio BWC’s September “snapshot” is taken - those reserves will be treated as dollars already spent on the claim, impacting premiums for the coming policy year. Lost time claims will see the largest impact, as medical reserves for 2019 were roughly four (4) times paid compensation and are now 19 times paid compensation.  This does not necessarily mean your company should consider salary continuation to soften the blow, as all claims have reserves. That should be discussed with your TPA on a case-by-case basis and not used as a remedy to avoid a lost-time claim with BWC. We are expecting these changes to have an impact on Group Retro refunds for the 2020 policy year a

MCO Open Enrollment Scheduled for May

MCO Open Enrollment Scheduled for May

Posted By Brandy King
April 01, 2021 Category: MCO, MCO Open Enrollment, Managed Care Organization, Ohio BWC, Spooner Medical Administrators,

2021 Open Enrollment for Managed Care Organizations (MCO) MCO Open Enrollment will take place beginning Monday, May 3rd, and end on Friday, May 28th.  While we’re used to seeing MCO Open Enrollment scheduled in May of every even-numbered year – the enrollment period was canceled in May 2020 due to COVID-19.  This enrollment comes only every two years, so employers have not had an opportunity to choose an MCO since May 2018, and will not have the opportunity again until 2023.  Don’t miss out if you want to make a change! Please email Brian Davis if you have any questions. Brian can be reached at

Ohio BWC Updates for 2020 & 2021 Policy Years

Posted By Brandy King
April 01, 2021 Category: Ohio BWC, Workers Compensation, BWC Premiums, BWC Dividends, Surplus Fund, Premium Increase, BWC Administrative Fees

Ohio BWC's Net Position (as of March 2021) $12.5 Billion in surplus as of 12/31/2019 $7.6 Billion in surplus as of 12/31/2020 Potential Dividend this fall will be based on how their investments perform. Administrative Fee Increase BWC’s administrative fee is an amount that is baked into premiums, and will see a drastic increase in the coming policy year. For many, this will devalue the 7.1% (avg.) base rate decrease recently announced. Also, keep in mind that the rate reduction announced is not applied evenly across all manual codes.  2020 – 20.32% of premiums 2021 – 31.56% of premiums In addition, the BWC transferred $25,000,000 from the state fund to the admin fund. If you want to find out how this will impact your 2021 premiums or have any other questions about this, please email Jennifer Kantorowski. She can be reached at

Important Dates For The Ohio BWC 2019 Policy Year

Important Dates For The Ohio BWC 2019 Policy Year

Posted By Spooner
May 28, 2019 Category: Ohio BWC, Important Deadlines

Spooner Inc. shares important deadlines for the Ohio BWC 2019 policy year. Ohio Employers need to make sure they know these dates and meet the deadlines or they will not be eligible for certain plans and

What is Handicap Reimbursement and How Can it Save My Company Money on Workers Comp?

What is Handicap Reimbursement and How Can it Save My Company Money on Workers Comp

Posted By Spooner Inc.
April 30, 2019 Category: Reimbursement Fund, Ohio BWC

Spooner Inc. is an experienced third-party administrator. We are able to help you determine if you are eligible to receive a handicap

Changes to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation for 2019

Changes to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation for 2019

Posted By Spooner Incorporated
January 04, 2019 Category: Workers Compensation, Ohio BWC, Group Retro

In this video blog, Jacqui and Joe discuss the changes the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation in 2019 and how Spooner Inc., can help you save time and money for your business in the new

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