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These days, everything runs on plastic. In fact, that’s our nation’s problem. I’m not going to talk about the woes of our economy or engage in the credit vs. debit debate, though; there is a plethora of other blogs doing just that already. Believe it or not, this all relates to workers’ compensation.

JPMorgan did something interesting recently; it introduced a workers’ comp debit card. No, it’s not something that workers can hold and use at their discretion, whenever they’re feeling a bit sore. Rather, it’s a card that insurance companies can sign-up for in order to streamline payment processing for injured workers once a claim has been filed and acknowledged. JPMorgan is the first major financial institution to enable insurance companies to use prepaid debit cards to deliver workers compensation benefits to injured or disabled workers.

Beyond its benefit of reducing the paper trail for insurance companies, the card potentially represents two major benefits for injured workers. First, symbolically, companies are recognizing that these workers are involved in an arduous trade and injuries are bound to happen. By enrolling, companies are taking a step in the right direction, acknowledging that there is a problem and trying to streamline the solution. Second, it allows workers who have proved that their injury arose out of and in the course of employment to receive their payment more quickly and easily.

Injured workers are dealing with enough stressors, including learning to live with their new injuries and often adjusting work expectations. Waiting for a check to come in the mail or going to the bank to cash it are just extra to-do items. A workers’ comp debit card could take those items off the list. And it might not seem like a big deal, but it is. Anyone who remembers waiting for an employment check to come, hoping it makes it in time to pay this month’s rent, can relate to just how stressful waiting for a check can be. At a time when the last thing these injured individuals need is more stress, the debit card option comes as a great relief.

Less waiting means less stress. And having this type of streamlined system allows for quick enrollment into the card program as well as the ability to electronically deposit funds for quick access. Additionally, payments can be easily tracked, so there is documentation that injured individuals are receiving their payments on time. In short, it’s a way to make the whole payment process just a little more pleasant for people involved in a very unpleasant situation.

Only time will tell how widespread this process becomes, and whether other financial institutions will follow suit, but it certainly holds promise. It’s the little things that make a big difference when people are going through really tough times, and this could be a great opportunity for insurance companies to take a step in the right direction.

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