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HOW DO I GET MEDICAL CARE FOR MY DISABILITY?

Under the Act, the employer is responsible for furnishing all reasonable medical treatment to an injured worker, including medical, surgical and hospital services, dental services, crutches, artificial limbs, eyes, teeth, eyeglasses, hearing aids, chiropractic care and nursing care. The employer is responsible for providing medical care for any work-related injury or disability for as long as the need for care continues regardless of when or if the employee returns to work.

pic-workcomp6.jpgAn injured employee, like any other free American, has a right to choose his or her own doctor. For injuries occurring after December 19, 2011, the Act provides that 28 days after treatment begins, the employee may treat with the physician of his or her own choice by giving the employer the name of the physician and his or her intention to treat with the physician. (The Republicans changed the law in 2011; previously, workers could select their own doctor after 10 days.) One effect of this provision seems to be that if an employee elects to treat with a doctor of their own choosing, during the first 28 days, the employee might be stuck paying these bills although this is not always the case. Regardless, when the employee decides to treat with someone other than the company doctor or company-referred doctor, the employee should let the employer know.

There are now elaborate rules detailing how medical bills are to be paid and how much medical providers are allowed to charge for work-related injuries. If a bill is properly submitted by a medical provider and there is no dispute about whether the treatment was for a work-related injury, the bill must be paid within 30 days, and the worker cannot be billed for any excess. If the treatment was for a non-work-related condition, the provider may bill the worker directly.

Republican Governor Snyder’s Administration has been considering radical new regulations that will drastically limit the type and amount of care all injured workers can receive in the state. The Snyder administration’s 2014 proposal sought to require all doctors to obtain pre-authorization before treatment and doctors would generally be allowed to only provide treatment that is contained in ‘cookbooks’ or treatment guidelines drafted by the insurance industry. If these regulations are adopted, injured workers in Michigan will find it harder and harder to receive adequate medical care.

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