Research Indicates Giving an Employee Choice of Doctors Doesn’t Affect Workers’ Comp Costs

patient_with_doctorWorkers who've suffered an injury on the job are at a slight disadvantage when it comes to getting proper medical care. Under Florida law, people injured in a work accident are required to be treated by a doctor that has been selected or approved by their employer’s insurance company. Many employers support this rule, since the employer can retain the right to refuse to pay for costs that are deemed unnecessary.

However, a new study has found that the medical costs to an employer are no higher when the employee is allowed to choose his own treating physician.

Cost Isn't a Factor When an Employee Selects His Own Doctor

A recent report by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) discovered that cost doesn't increase when employees choose their own doctors. In fact, the average cost of workers’ compensation-funded treatment differed very little between states where employees are allowed to choose their providers and states where employers control the choice of physician. According to the study, only the most complicated claims or expensive cases involving specialists, such as severe back injuries, resulted in higher costs when workers choose their providers.

Allowing employees to choose their treating physicians can also have other benefits, including:

  • Trust. A doctor chosen by an employee may already have a longstanding relationship with the patient.
  • Faster claim resolution. The gathering of medical records and supporting evidence may go more quickly if the doctor is near the patient’s home, and travel costs might also be significantly reduced.
  • Fewer disputes. Allowing employees to choose their medical providers may make it less likely that injured workers will contest the results of an independent medical exam, allowing cases to proceed more smoothly.

It's important to note that there are some circumstances where employees may already be able to select their doctors after a work injury. For instance, the insurer doesn't have to approve of an emergency room doctor before life-saving care is provided. Also, an injured employee can request a change in physician once during the course of treatment. If the insurance company doesn't assign a new doctor within five days of the patient’s request, the patient can choose the physician. Finally, if the employer refuses to send the employee to a doctor, or the workers' comp insurance company denies the claim, the employee may see any doctor he or she chooses.

If you have questions after an injury at work, our attorneys can get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today or fill out the form on this page to set up your consultation.


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