Do I have to go to the company doctor for a Kentucky workers compensation claim?
You get to select the doctor to treat you for a Kentucky workers compensation claim. While other states allow the employer to select the treating doctor, Kentucky law clearly allows an injured employee to pick their own doctor: “the employee may select medical providers to treat his injury or occupational disease.” KRS 342.020(1)
This choice of doctors is limited in Kentucky if the employer participates in a managed care plan, which is like a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) for workers compensation claims. If there is a managed care plan, the worker has to treat with a doctor in that plan. But even then, the employer is required to have at least two doctors for every specialty, and the employer cannot tell the employee which doctor to treat them.
Nevertheless, employers and workers compensation insurance carriers regularly wrongly instruct injured workers that they must treat with the company doctor. The supervisor, safety manager, human resource director or claims adjuster may make those statements because they do not know the law, or they confuse Kentucky’s law with another state’s. But, it can also be argued the employer’s representatives give wrong instructions to control the costs of a claim.
It can be further argued that company doctors help control costs because they know who referred the patients to them, and want to make sure they get more referrals. That makes them inclined to try to make the employers and workers compensation carriers happy, by not ordering costly medical tests and treatment. Also, at the conclusion of medical treatment, they may assign low impairment ratings to reduce monetary benefits for permanent disability, thus saving the employer or workers compensation carrier substantial amounts.
If you need confirmation you can select your own doctor, or if you need to find out if your company participate in a managed care plan, you can contact the Kentucky Department of Workers Claims at (502)564-5550.