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Friday, September 27, 2013

What If I May Need Surgery Later?

Medical care is probably the largest benefit of workers' compensation coverage. Deferred medical treatment and potential surgical intervention is problematic. Today's post comes from guest author Jon Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.
By Jon Rehm from Rehm, Bennett & Moore
What happens to my workers’ compensation case if my doctor says I might need surgery in a few years but not now?
A common concern among workers’ comp clients is the worry of what will happen with their injured body part or parts in the future. This concern is often raised when a doctor tells a patient they MAY need surgery in the future. In Nebraska, the fact that you may need medical care in the future does not mean that a surgery will be paid for by workers’ compensation. In order for any medical care to be paid by workers’ compensation, that medical care must be reasonable and necessary to treat your work injury. MAY does not cut it for courts and insurance companies.
Fortunately, under Nebraska law, medical care is defined as anything that hastens return to employment or relieves pain. Many times, doctors, especially surgeons, will state that there is no treatment required for an injury. Insurance companies take this to mean there is no need for future medical care. However, if your doctor prescribes medication, a brace for you to wear, compression stockings, or even that you do exercises with equipment prescribed by a doctor, that all qualifies as future medical treatment. The advantage of asking your doctor for braces, or even simple equipment like exercise bands or squeeze balls, for treatment is that it gives a court the leeway to award you future medical care so that if you need surgery down the road, it is more likely that the surgery will be approved. Also, if you do your prescribed exercises, it is probably less likely that you will need surgical care in the future. Finally, if you are diligent about doing your recommended exercises to treat your injury, a doctor is more likely to support you in your workers’ compensation case.