This is the second post in our Q & A series about Missouri workers' compensation law regarding the rights of injured workers in Lee Summit, Kansas City, and across Missouri. Questions about medical treatment often arise, and are addressed in this article.
Can I Pick My Own Doctor and Still Have My Treatment Covered by Workers' Compensation?
No. In Missouri, the employer must pay for reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to a work injury, and in exchange the employer has the right to select your physicians. The right to choose the physician belongs to the employer by statute, however, the employer typically delegates such right to the their workers' compensation insurance carrier. It is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to contact an injured employee and notify them of the name of the doctor they must see under workers' compensation.
The employer/insurer chooses the physician, and must authorize treatment before it will be covered by workers' compensation.
Just because employers have the right to choose physicians and direct the medical care, does not mean employees are forbidden from choosing their own doctors. Indeed, employees are free to choose their own physician and direct their own medical care, but such treatment will typically be at their own expense if the employer/insurer accepted the case and offered treatment. Therefore, unless an employee wants to pay for treatment out of their own pocket (because their health insurance likely won't pay either, as discussed below), the only option usually is to see the doctors the employer/insurer directs the employee to.
Can I Get a Second Opinion or Change Doctors?
Sometimes injured workers are unhappy with the care they receive from the doctor the employer/insurer directed them to. An injured worker may not be making any progress towards healing and believes he or she needs a different type of treatment, tests, a specialist, or surgery that the employer/insurer's authorized treating physician doesn't approve.