When a highway patrol officer was involved in an accident on-the-job, he should have had all of his injuries covered by workers' compensation insurance. The injured officer suffers from lingering neck and back pain. He is eager to return to work, but he has not been able to do so. Instead, he, and his physicians, have made more than 300 different requests for workers' compensation to cover his necessary medical treatment.
When requests for care were submitted, according to NBC, there was often a lengthy delay in determining if the treatment should be covered. In any circumstances, necessary care was outright denied. This has left the officer in pain, and unable to access the treatment he needs to find relief and get on the road to recovery. In one instance, he was even denied coverage for a $30 heating pad he needs to try to alleviate his discomfort and he was forced to purchase the heating pad himself.
This man's story is, tragically, not unique. He is one of many who is supposed to be getting his medical bills paid through workers' comp but who is getting the run-around and getting hurt as a result.
Workers' comp is an exclusive remedy system and medical bills are supposed to be paid by insurers for injured employees hurt on the job who need care. Unfortunately, NBC indicates that a survey of doctors showed 67 percent had trouble getting approval to provide care for a patient of theirs who had been injured in the job. More than half said that necessary testing, treatment, or diagnostic care for patients ended up being denied.
This survey took place in California, but the story is the same throughout the United States. Workers' compensation insurers are putting profit over people, they are instituting lengthy review processes in an attempt to fight fraud, and they are treating workers as the enemy instead of as injured people who deserve compassion and care.
The consequences of insurers failing to approve and pay for care in a timely manner are dire. Workers linger in pain, end up giving up and paying for care that should be covered, and cannot get better and go back to work. Some suffer permanent damage due to delayed treatment of conditions which they could perhaps have recovered from with more timely treatment. It is those workers with the most serious conditions who suffer the most, and who are most in need of workers' comp benefits.
Any worker whose necessary care is denied or delayed should understand his rights. An experienced attorney can provide assistance in seeking timely access to care through the workers' compensation system.