In 2020 and Beyond, Here’s How to Protect More Injured Texas Workers

If you are a Texas employer that does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you should become a QCARE program sponsor. 


Ryan Brannan is an adviser to the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation (ARAWC) and former Commissioner of Texas Workers’ Compensation.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you got hurt at work? Or for that matter, who takes care of the cashier at your favorite restaurant or retail store if they get hurt on the job? Or what about the warehouse worker or driver who delivered a product you’re now enjoying?

The reality is, every day across Texas, many employees get injured on the job. Some of these accidents are serious, requiring immediate medical attention and time away from work to recover. And whether it’s a minor knee sprain or a broken back, our hard-working friends, neighbors and colleagues need on-the-job injury protection.

The good news is that 95% of all Texas employees are eligible for benefits under either traditional workers’ compensation or injury benefit programs.

Injury benefit program success

For 30 years, injury benefit programs sponsored by Texas employers have successfully handled around 50,000 accidents a year by:

  • Advocating for injured workers;
  • Achieving more active engagement of injured workers, employers and medical providers;
  • Delivering better medical outcomes;
  • Paying improved benefits; and
  • Reducing employer costs.
All of these goals can be simultaneously achieved, as described in our “Innovation Series.”

Are you protected?

Legal reforms and competitive insurance markets have brought workers’ compensation and injury benefit program costs way down. But some employers are still not taking care of their employees. Are you one of the 5% of Texas employees who have no workers’ comp or injury benefit protection? You deserve better. On-the-job injuries are a natural cost of labor, so medical coverage, wage replacement and other injury benefits should be provided by your employer at no cost to you. If you don’t know what will happen if you get injured at work, now is the time to find out. Here’s how:

We now have a publicly available list of all Texas employers that have received recognition for their “QCARE” programs. QCARE stands for a Qualified Compensation Alternative for Recovering Employees.

Is your employer on the QCARE list? Or is it on the state’s workers’ compensation policyholder list? Or is it possible it “opts out” of providing high-quality injury benefit protection? Before you go home today, ask your employer if you are protected by workers’ compensation or QCARE. It’s one of the most important questions you can ask about your job.

Is our company doing the right thing?

If you are a Texas employer without workers’ compensation insurance, you should become a QCARE program sponsor. The QCARE designation for injury benefit programs was created by the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation (ARAWC, or “A-Rock”).

QCARE recognizes the “good guys” who don’t simply “opt out” and instead, sponsor quality injury benefit protection as an alternative to the state-run workers’ comp program.

Some people say the solution to covering 100% of all Texas workers with injury protection is to mandate workers’ compensation insurance coverage on every Texas employer. But a century of experience across the United States shows that even mandatory workers’ compensation laws don’t result in injury benefit protection for all employees.

We commonly see states with mandatory workers’ comp laws that have more than 5 percent of workers with no coverage. And when there is no competition, a lot of people lose. Employer costs can be astronomically higher, and it’s the workers who lose the most, as injury medical outcomes decline under a more complex, less competitive and more expensive healthcare delivery system.

Wisely, Texas has charted a better course.

Three years ago, ARAWC began a disciplined process of promoting injury benefit program improvements across the Lone Star State. These improvements include enhanced benefit coverages, new claim procedure protections and further ensure fairness for injured workers. And now for the first time, QCARE recognizes 10 essential standards that should be part of every responsible Texas injury benefit program.

QCARE raises the bar and distinguishes the “bad actors” from the more responsible companies – the “good guys” who look out for their employees.

All Texas employers should meet these standards or provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage. And they should expect their vendors and suppliers to do the same. Demonstrating social responsibility toward Texas’ diverse and talented workforce is important for your own companies, as well as the companies with which you do business.

Texas is home to the finest model of workers’ compensation and injury benefit protection in the United States. A competitive marketplace matters — and real competition works.

QCARE will allow the Texas model to work even more effectively by expanding coverage to more workers and easily identifying all the companies that care for their injured workers.

Providing high-quality injury benefits coverage for your employees is the right thing to do.

To learn more about the future of on-the-job injury protection in Texas, click here.

What is QCARE? QCARE is a simple, no-cost, online designation to recognize employers with a responsible Texas injury benefit program that satisfies high industry standards. Ten standards emphasize legal compliance, fairness in benefit delivery, insurance protections, and professional claims administration.

This is a reproduction of an opinion piece that originally appeared in the Texas Tribune.