How free support from WSDA Retro and ERNwest resolved an L&I mistake that would have cost one WSDA member significant money, time and stress.
“I Never Would Have Known There Was a Problem”
By Dr. Stephen Lee
A couple of years ago, WSDA launched a new member program called WSDA Retro. The pitch was that dentists who enrolled could earn money back on their workers’ compensation taxes. I signed up for it, and soon it blended into the background along with all the other little taxes and compliance matters that we put in place and only revisit when there’s a need.
Fast forward to a few months ago, when I received an unexpected and unwelcome Labor and Industries claim against me from an employee who hadn’t worked for me for about a year and a half. The injury related to neck pain from working in the dental setting. I didn’t feel I had done anything to cause or aggravate her injury during her time at my office, nor did she ever say anything to me about our workplace being ergonomically problematic.
I was advised by WSDA to have ERNwest — WSDA’s partner in managing the Retro program — look into the claim for me for free. I had no idea that I had somebody in my court to help me with this, but through this process I learned that ERNwest has a staff of workers’ compensation experts dedicated to advocating for dentists enrolled in the Retro program. In my case, they discovered that L&I incorrectly assigned 18 percent of the claim to me, and that based on when and where her wages were earned, my responsibility was actually under 10 percent. Better still, being under 10 percent meant I would be removed from the claim.
Without ERNwest, I never would have known there was a problem with the claim. I would have either had to hire an independent advisor to help me, or more likely, I would have just accepted my fate and paid a bunch of money for a claim wrongfully assigned to me. My representative at ERNwest was responsive, professional, and saved me a lot of money. Plus, it cost me nothing as a WSDA Retro participant. If you have an L&I claim and you’re a part of WSDA Retro, be sure to have ERNwest help you with the claims process. And if you aren’t enrolled in this free member program, do yourself a favor and sign up today
WSDA Retro: What’s the Catch?
“I haven’t enrolled because this sounds too good to be true.”
We get it — some of the benefits dentists get from WSDA Retro do sound “too good to be true,” but they are not. The success of the program requires members to control claim costs. Therefore, program benefits are designed to help you do just that. Two of WSDA Retro’s main benefits include offering you free support from ERNwest staff to resolve claims (like Dr. Lee’s experience above) and offering you up to 100% wage reimbursement for bringing injured employees back to work on modified duty. These benefits may seem “too good to be true” to the individual dentist due to the cost savings you see from a free service, but in the long-term, your individual success immensely benefits our Retro program through increased premium refunds.
“Is this program actually free?”
Yes, WSDA Retro enrollment and all associated program benefits are free to WSDA members. The only thing you must do to stay enrolled is keep your WSDA membership active, which is a legal requirement by the state of Washington to participate in a Retro program. We are fortunate that Washington state allows for Retro programs — not every state does — and are taking advantage of this opportunity on your behalf.
“What is the risk? Could I pay more if I sign up?”
No, you are not at risk of paying more if you sign up for WSDA Retro. WSDA as an organization, not the individual dentist, assumes all risk for our Retro group. In fact, you put yourself at risk of paying more than you may need to if you are not enrolled. If you are faced with a workers’ compensation claim and are not a Retro participant, you will have to hire a consultant or attorney to manage the claim for you, or simply pay the claim and accept the impact that the claim costs will have on your future rates without knowing if it could have been lowered or eliminated.
The WSDA Retro program is a valuable and exclusive benefit of your WSDA membership. Since launching in early 2020, WSDA Retro has successfully enrolled over 1,100 Washington dental offices and counting. Sign up today for free at wsda.org/retro to add your office to the growing list of those taking advantage of workers’ compensation support, reimbursed employee wages and other Retro perks when they need it most.
Signing up is EASY!
WSDA Retro Application
- Go to wsda.org/retro
- Click on “WSDA Retro Application”
- Complete/sign the following:
- Participation Agreement
- L&I Retro Application
- Contact Form
- Fax or email to ERNwest
Contact Julie Osterberg with ERNwest at email@example.com