Iowa is what is known as an employer choice state for medical care. This means that if your employer and/or their workers' compensation insurance company admits that your claim is work-related, then they will likely use their power to direct your medical care. Generally, this means that you will need to see the medical providers that they direct you to, including surgeons, if you want your employer to pay for the medical bills and for your time off work. However, you are always free to seek medical care and treatment on your own, but you will likely end up being required to pay for the treatment. Keep in mind that you can always ask the insurance adjustor if they will send you to a different doctor, but it is not common for this to work. Also, if the doctor they send you to refers you to another doctor, then generally the insurance company is required to provide you with care and treatment to the new doctor.
If you are not satisfied with the medical care and treatment that you are being provided, there is a limited exception known as alternative medical care. There are very specific legal requirements that must be met in order to successfully change your medical care to a doctor that you prefer. The most common medical care issue we see is the insurance company delaying or denying medical care and treatment recommended by their own doctors. No, it should not take one month to get you an MRI when you are in pain and not able to do the things that you want to do. Properly filing a petition for alternative medical care can force the issue and get the medical care that you need more quickly.
Changing Your Medical Care
Another reason we file petitions for alternative medical care is that the doctors you see at the request of the insurance company state there is nothing more that can be done, and you find another doctor who makes treatment recommendations. If the proper steps are followed in this process, we often are successful in changing the medical care to a new provider who will hopefully have something to offer you so you can get on with your life and leave the pain behind.
For more information about alternative medical care, you should request a copy of our Iowa Workers Comp book which contains an entire chapter devoted to this subject. We offer the book at no cost or risk to you because we have seen far too many injured workers get taken advantage of by the insurance company and often told flat out lies like "you cannot see your own doctors". In addition to discussing alternative medical care, the book reveals the Iowa injured workers' bill of rights including your right to lifetime medical care, compensation when you are taken off work, and much, much more.
If you have immediate questions about your rights as an injured worker including your right to medical care call our office now (641-792-3595) to speak with one our of Iowa Workers Compensation Attorneys. There is no cost or obligation and we will explain the process, answer your questions and tell you if we think we will be successful in changing your medical providers.