Did you know that an injured worker in Pennsylvania can choose his or her own doctor? There is a common misunderstanding in the general public that the workers’ compensation insurance carrier can dictate the medical treatment of an injured worker. While a workers’ comp insurance company MAY be able to have some limitation on the choice of a doctor for an injured worker, that control is narrow.
If an employer posts a valid list of healthcare providers for an injured worker to select (called a “panel posting”), the workers’ compensation insurance carrier may only have to pay for treatment with one of the listed providers (for the first 90 days). This would only be true if the list is a valid one (there are rules of what providers can or cannot be on a list), the list is posted in a prominent location, and the injured worker signs an acknowledgement that he or she has seen the list, both before and after the injury. Employers frequently do not meet all of these requirements, allowing an injured worker to treat with a doctor of his or her own choosing (and having the workers’ comp insurance carrier responsible for payment).
As the PA Bureau of Workers’ Compensation notes on its website, “The PA Workers’ Compensation Act gives employers the right to establish a list of designated health care providers.” Many Employers simply do not take advantage of this “right,” giving them no control over the medical treatment for an injured worker. Again, even if an Employer has a properly posted “panel,” this control over medical treatment only lasts for the first 90 days of treatment.