WHO DECIDES WHAT DOCTOR I GO TO IF I AM INJURED AT WORK IN IOWA
Under the Iowa Workers' Compensation laws, for an injury that is accepted by your employer as work related, the employer and Workers' Compensation insurance carrier get to choose your doctor. However, their ability to choose your doctor is not without limitation.
The medical care that the employer chooses for you must be reasonable, must be offered promptly, and must be reasonably suited to treat the injury without undue inconvenience to you.
In situations where the employer or insurance carrier pick physicians who are not entirely qualified or who are located great distances from the employee’s home, the employee may be able to force the employer and insurance carrier to provide them care with a different physician.
Another situation in which employees can choose a doctor is when, under the law, an employee has the right to a second opinion. An employee is entitled to the second opinion at the insurance carrier’s expense when:
1) The Workers' Compensation claim is accepted;
2) The insurance carrier’s doctor has issued an impairment rating; and
3) The claimant believes the impairment rating is too low.
Although the Workers' Compensation insurance carrier chooses who they will pay for the treatment of your work-related injury, you cannot be stopped from seeking your own medical care with doctors of your own choice. The complexity of seeking care on your own is that your health insurance may not pay for the bills associated with this medical care because most health insurance policies do not pay for work-related medical care. In my practice, there are many situations when I have my clients go to their family physician or to another doctor to obtain another opinion in their case.
The problem that I continue to see is that certain physicians who are chosen by the employer appear to be influenced by the insurance company and for this reason seem to be more concerned about the insurance company than my client - the injured worker. For this reason, it’s important to speak with an attorney who can provide guidance as to whether you should seek medical care on your own in order to obtain appropriate medical care or second opinions in your case.