Paying for medical care can be a challenge when you suffer serious injuries, especially if you need ongoing care. If your injuries are work-related, you are not supposed to have to worry about this. Workers' compensation is supposed to provide you with coverage for your workplace injuries so you can get the care you need in a timely manner without struggle.
Unfortunately, workers' compensation programs throughout the country have been gradually getting worse and worse in recent years. Now, NBC is out with a scathing report showcasing how injured employees are experiencing delays in treatment and denials of essential medical treatment.
The consequences of workers' comp insurers stretching out the time it takes for a patient to get care can be dire. Injured workers must understand their rights and do everything possible to try to get prompt treatment so they are not left to linger in pain.
Many types of injuries workers sustain on-the-job can be terribly painful. Even more minor injuries, if not properly and promptly treated, can progress into conditions that cause significant discomfort. The pain of an injury can be treated in many different ways, including with medications, with therapy, and even with the simple use of a heating pad. Getting diagnostic testing to discover causes of pain, and undergoing treatment for underlying conditions, is also the best way to end pain permanently.
Workers' comp should cover testing, treatment, and pain management. Unfortunately, many insurers aren't actually covering any of these things in practice. NBC talked with medical care professionals at major pain management clinics which treat substantial numbers of workers' compensation patients and discovered the patients were being denied the type of relief they needed to alleviate severe pain. Some of the patients were police officers or other first responders with physical jobs who had been hurt in the line of duty.
The problem stems from the fact that workers' comp insurers may need to approve treatments, including pain management, before the treatment can go ahead if the treatment is going to be paid for by workers' comp. Insurers are delaying their approvals, sometimes for weeks or months, leaving patients lingering in pain as they wait for answers. Legitimate claims are also being denied. According to NBC, a survey of doctors in one state found more than 50 percent expressing concern that workers' comp patients had been denied medically necessary treatment.
These workers not only aren't getting help managing their pain, but are also getting denials for the kinds of care they need to get back to work. This is shortsighted on the part of workers' comp insurers and it is devastating for injured employees who mostly just want to recover and get back to their jobs. Insurers need to do better and stop leaving injured workers lingering in pain because of bureaucratic red tape they have to cut through to get their care covered.