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What medical benefits can I receive with workers’ compensation?

Alaska workers who are injured on the job or suffer an illness or condition from the work they do will need to understand workers’ compensation benefits. Wage coverage is a frequent topic of discussion. Having legal advice may be vital to be correctly categorized based on the disability and its expected duration. There are, however, other areas of workers’ compensation that people may want to consider. One is the medical benefits a worker is supposed to receive.

After a worker gets injured, the workers’ compensation insurer is required to pay for medical care for up to two years. The Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board (also called the “Board”) will determine, on a case-by-case basis, if payments should continue after those two years have run out. In general, the insurer will pay for medical care for more than two years if it is necessary for an adequate recovery. Still, it is crucial to understand the critical points about medical benefits.

These include:

  • Selecting doctors
  • Reports from the doctor about the injury and treatment
  • The obligation that the insurer must pay
  • The treatment and its frequency
  • Transportation
  • Subsequent medical examinations

The worker can choose any doctor if he or she is licensed. That includes chiropractors and osteopaths – medical categories that are often in dispute as to the necessity and viability. The worker can change the treating doctor once, but they must notify the insurer beforehand. Going to see a specialist does not qualify as a change in doctor. When seeking to make a second change to the primary caregiver, there must be written authorization from the insurer. The doctor must prepare a report to be given to the insurer and the Board. To receive payments, the doctor must state on the form that the person cannot work.

The insurer is obligated to pay for medical care. For workers who pay out of pocket, it is imperative to retain receipts so reimbursement can occur. The insurer must pay the bill within 30 days. In some cases, workers may want more frequent treatment. However, there is a limitation on how often a person can get the same treatment and the insurer’s willingness to pay for it. For example, if it goes beyond three times a week in the first month of treatment, the insurer might not be obligated to pay. Doctors who prescribe more treatment must inform the insurer in writing and it must get done within the first two weeks of first treating the worker.

The insurer must pay for transportation to take the worker to the closest medical care facility. The worker must take a reasonably priced transporter. The insurer can ask for a medical examination to gauge the injured worker’s progress. This can get done within approximately two months. The insurer will select the doctor to conduct the examination. The worker will get notified within ten days of the examination. The Board can also request an investigation if there is a discrepancy between the doctor’s assessment and the insurer’s as to the injured worker’s condition. This can help settle various disputes.

Workers who become injured on the job will think about how they will make ends meet, what kind of work they can do after the injury, and how they will receive treatment to return to full health. Financial concerns can be quite common, but medical care is also an integral part of workers’ compensation benefits. Professional, experienced legal assistance can be a critical factor in maximizing all workers’ compensation benefits. Some injuries like broken bones, cuts and bruises are relatively easy to assess. Others like back injuries, soft tissue injuries and emotional trauma are not. Before worrying unnecessarily or making a mistake in the process, contacting a firm that understands all aspects of workers’ compensation may be essential.