In Washington, there has been an increase in fentanyl deaths and health exchange registrants, while workers’ comp rates have lowered.
Illicit fentanyl overdoses have increased across the state, as the illegal narcotic has been discovered in more forms.
The Washington State Department of Health reports a roughly 70 percent increase in deaths from the illegal narcotic within a year. In the first half of 2018, there were 81 deaths linked to fentanyl, versus 48 deaths recorded during the same time the year before. This data is based on the most recent, preliminary toxicology results which will be finalized later this year.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, prescribed to treat severe pain. However, the drug is also sold illegally for its heroin-like effect.
The state health department reports that “Fentanyl is 30-50 times as strong as pure heroin, and a dose the size of a few grains of salt can be fatal to an average-size person.” Officials say it can be found as pills and powder or in other narcotics, like heroin and cocaine.
For info, contact Compass Health at 360-378-2669 or a 24-hour mental health crisis line at 1-800-584-3578.
Despite a shorter enrollment period, more people have bought health insurance through the Washington state health care exchange as of Nov. 30 than the same time the year before.
The health exchange, called Washington Healthplanfinder, offers health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Enrollment was shortened by a month compared to last year. As of the end of November, more than 195,000 customers had selected a health plan for 2019, which is a nearly 3 percent increase over the same time last year. Enrollment closes on Dec. 15. Register at www.wahealthplanfinder.org. For help signing up, call the local family resource center at 360-378-5246.
Washington state employers will pay 5 percent less in workers’ compensation insurance in 2019.
According to the state Department of Labor and Industries, this is the largest drop in workers’ comp in more than a decade. Staff attributes the lower costs to fewer on-the-job injuries and more improvements in helping injured workers heal and return to work.
Starting Jan. 1, employers will pay about $58 less per employee for a year of coverage, and workers will pay about $6 less annually. For more on rates, visit www.Lni.wa.gov/Rates.