Seeking Alternative Treatment in Iowa's Workers’ Compensation System

Some Des Moines workers may want to pursue alternative treatment for their injuries. It's possible for workers to use alternative treatments, but they should follow procedures in requesting this treatment and be prepared if an employer or insurance company denies the request.

Types of Alternative Treatments

Alternative treatments can include things like acupuncture, massage and chiropractic treatment. People seek out alternative treatments for many different reasons. Some people use the treatments as a lifestyle choice because they don't want to use certain medications, such as addictive painkillers, or other treatments.

Alternative Medical Treatment and Workers’ Compensation

A worker's employer or the employer's workers' compensation insurance company is required to pay for medical costs associated with the injury. Section 85.27 of the Iowa Code specifically mentions osteopathic and chiropractic treatment, among other, more traditional treatment options. The general requirement for these companies is to provide reasonable and necessary medical treatment for the work injury.

When a worker is interested in pursuing alternative medical care, he or she first needs to speak with his doctor about the treatment. The question of whether the treatment is approved comes down to if the treatment will help improve the employee’s condition.

Of course, the employer chooses the employee’s doctor, so some employees suspect that any denial of certain reasonable treatment is related to the doctor’s attempt to please the employer. Workers have options if the treatment is denied but have to request the treatment first.

What if the insurance company denies alternative treatment?

Employees who wish to seek alternate care if they are dissatisfied with their current doctor’s care first should speak with their employer and the insurance company. Seeking alternate care without first gaining approval is unwise -- it won’t be covered by workers’ compensation.

If the employer or insurance company doesn’t approve the alternate care, workers have the option to petition the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner (IWCC). The IWCC will consider the petition and decide whether the worker may seek alternate care.

A hearing may be scheduled – the parties may request a telephone or in-person hearing – where the parties will make their cases regarding the alternate care. Workers may benefit from an attorney if their cases become contested, and they must petition the IWCC for alternate care or in response to other disputes. A lawyer can help the worker collect proper documentation and present the case to the IWCC.

The IWCC will make a decision within 10 days of receiving the application for alternate care in the event of a telephone hearing or within 14 days in the event of an in-person hearing.

The attorneys at Walker, Billingsley & Bair can help Des Moines workers make a case for alternative medical care to the IWCC. Contact our office at 888-435-9886 or fill out our contact form to set up your free consultation and get started today. 

Corey Walker
With 19 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.