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Does workers’ compensation cover alternative treatments?

NewsPersonal Injury   February 18, 2016

If you’re injured on the job and your workers’ compensation claim is accepted, this means your employer’s insurance will pay for medical treatments that have been approved by a physician. This likely will include standard Western medical diagnostic tests, and treatments including prescription medications. But what if you’re someone who prefers alternative medical therapies? If you’re allowed to choose your own doctor, what happens if that doctor is a naturopath? Does workers’ compensation also provide compensation for treatments like acupuncture or biofeedback?

The answer is, probably not. Because workers’ compensation is a state-run program, there is no national standard regarding what alternative treatments may be allowed under what circumstances. California and Florida, for example, allow acupuncture to be covered under workers’ compensation. This is not true for every state. However, you may be able to get certain treatments approved with a physician recommendation.

In general, the more evidence that exists that a treatment modality is effective, the more likely it is that treatment will be covered under an insurance plan. Often, alternative treatments are less well-studied than Western treatments, meaning they are less likely to be covered under insurance plans, including workers’ compensation. Some alternative treatments are also designed to be ongoing, a feature that might not be appealing from a workers’ compensation insurer’s perspective.

If you’ve been injured on the job, you can benefit greatly from the counsel of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can help guide you through the claims process and advise you on what treatments likely will and will not be covered.