“Yee-ouch, that hurt!” – Simple Injury Outcomes with QCARE

By Ryan Brannan, Former Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation in Texas


Three Choices - QCARE

When Donna got her hand smashed in a doorway at work, the agonizing trauma her co-workers heard that day was just the beginning. On top of missing work for doctor’s appointments and the physical pain of a busted hand, Donna struggled to care for her young children. Life grew more difficult than she could have imagined in the days and weeks that followed, and the last thing she needed to worry about was whether or not her medical bills would be paid or fretting over when she would see her next paycheck. Fortunately for Donna, her employer had an injury benefit program that quickly paid her wage replacement benefits and took care of all her medical expenses.

Sometimes, complex situations of life need simple solutions. Texas injury benefit programs have a 30-year track record of working well for injured Texas employees, their families, and employers. These benefit programs operate outside of the state-run workers’ compensation system and cover more than one million Texas workers. They pay medical, wage replacement, and other benefit payments for about 50,000 injured Texas workers and their families every year. 

The best part… these innovative, highly effective programs have just gotten a whole lot better.

The Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation has been reviewing research on medical outcomes for millions of injured workers, and engaging in constructive conversations with workplace injury thought leaders—including employee advocates—from across the United States. From the combination of this research and 30 years of experience in handling Texas injuries, ARAWC (“A-Rock”) has created a special new designation — called QCARE — that defines what it means to have a responsible Texas injury benefit program. QCARE recognizes those programs that meet 10 essential standards and deserve to be called a “Qualified Compensation Alternative for Recovering Employees.”

Why is the QCARE designation important? Because Texas employers want competitive choices between workers’ compensation insurance and injury benefit programs. At the same time, they need to behave responsibly in paying costs that result when someone gets hurt at work, whether the injury was the employer’s fault or a worker’s. QCARE delivers on the simplicity that both employers and injured workers deserve while raising the bar and clarifying what Texas employers should do if they don’t buy workers’ compensation insurance.

We all understand that healthcare is overly complex and expensive, particularly when someone gets hurt at work. Social responsibility for injured employees means their injury benefits should be easy to understand, with payment for 100 percent of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses, and timely access to the best medical providers across the Lone Star State.

Reliable wage replacement and benefits for catastrophic injuries are also important, particularly when low-income workers get seriously hurt on the job. Plus, under state and federal law, employees deserve access to meaningful legal protections.

QCARE delivers on all these goals, with limited delay and substantially less red tape. QCARE programs start with an easy-to-understand explanation of employee rights to quality benefits for any future injury on the job.

Then, like other employer-sponsored benefit plans, QCARE benefits must be administered consistently—by a named fiduciary—in the best interests of the injured employee. If a serious injury occurs, QCARE programs commonly bring family members into the injured workers’ care as soon as possible, whether it’s a decision on surgery, rehabilitation, or a return to work. Those decisions extend to various challenges related to housing, transportation, and other basic family needs.

The QCARE designation is available for injury benefit programs that make Texas stronger, meeting the needs of Texas businesses, along with the innovative simplicity injured workers such as Donna deserve.

Learn more today. It will be one of the smartest decisions you make this year.

This op-ed was originally published on the Houston Chronicle’s chron.com.