Can You Choose Your Own Doctor When You’re Injured at Work?
If you’re injured on the job and awarded compensation, it means that your medical treatment should be paid for by your company’s insurance. In some cases, catastrophic work injuries have a long recovery timeline and require a lot of care from medical professionals. The cost of this care shouldn’t be an issue if you’re on workers’ comp, but one common issue that does arise for you is who your care provider(s) will be.
Many people have primary care doctors that they already know, and receiving care from someone familiar may be ideal. But for those on workers’ compensation, choosing the doctor(s) that they see is not always an option. Many corporate insurance providers will have a pre-approved list of care providers for employees on workers’ comp, and seeing someone on this list is required to have the care paid for. If you’re in a situation like this, you’re likely wondering how these rules can apply to you. Of course, different insurance companies have different policies, but there are rules of thumb that can be applied to most cases and knowing what they are can help you learn where you stand and what your options are for treating your work injury.
Oftentimes, if you’re severely injured on the job, you may be rendered unconscious or rushed to the hospital for emergency care. In these cases, you will most likely be rushed to the closest possible hospital or treatment center, and you will certainly not be able to choose who your medical care provider will be. Fortunately, the first emergency care you receive in the wake of your injury is considered “initial treatment” and it should be covered in Georgia whether your provider was pre-approved or not.
Many work related injuries, such as damaged vertebrae or torn ligaments, require continued care and numerous follow-up appointments for a full recovery. After your initial treatment, all the follow up care you receive (such as checkups, scans, or physical therapy appointments) must be from a pre-approved provider. To prepare for situations like this, most employers should already have a list of their insurance company’s approved care providers. The doctor(s) who provide your follow up care must all be chosen from this list in order for your treatments to be covered. Sometimes, you can switch from one pre-approved doctor to another if you are dissatisfied with the care you receive.
Is it Ever Possible to Choose Your Own Doctor?
It is sometimes possible for workers’ compensation claimants to choose their own doctor even if they aren’t pre-approved, but it can often be difficult. One of the few ways you can do this is by pre-designating a medical care provider before you file your claim. For the best chance at approval, you should discuss this issue with your employer shortly after starting a job. Trying to pre-designate a doctor after you’ve already been injured is usually impossible.