Doctor choice. And choice of treatment. The Wisconsin way.
Unlike systems in other states, an injured worker in Wisconsin has access to their own doctor and what that doctor recommends for medical care. Wisconsin does not have specific directed care or a panel of worker’s compensation doctors. The choice of medical care and experienced practitioners produces some of the fastest return to work rates in the country, along with low costs per claim.
The only “limit” is the “two doctor rule,” where a Wisconsin injured worker has the right to see their own doctor or to get a second opinion from another doctor. While any doctor beyond the “two doctor” limit would be excluded from coverage (unless mutually agreed to by the work comp carrier), a worker has the right to see any doctor that is part of the referral chain from the two doctors-making doctor choice virtually unlimited if the worker obtains an appropriate referral!
The recommended medical care should be covered by the work comp carrier is reasonable and necessary to cure from the effects of an injury. Unless the insurance company has a contrary medical opinion (through an adverse, or “independent” medical evaluator), they generally are responsible for the medical treatment recommended, whether that is therapy, office visits, prescriptions, injections, surgery, etc.
Other states place limits on the type of treatment a worker can receive. A recent article revealed that Ohio legislators are limiting when injured workers can have certain prescription medications or surgery (Ohio Imposes Strict Rule on Workers’ Back Surgery, Opioids). Ohio is required a worker undergo 60 days of “alternative care”, potentially without opiate use, before having a work-related back surgery.
To date, Wisconsin’s legislature preferred the medical expertise of its physicians and their treatment recommendations. Relying on experienced, quality medical practitioners allows workers swift access to the necessary medical care and recommendations-and puts them back in the workplace fast!