Independent—it’s right there in the name, yet these so-called independent medical evaluations (IMEs) are usually anything but independent.
Maybe you’ve already gone to one of these IMEs, or maybe you’re about to—either way, you should know what’s really going on when your employer’s insurance company asks you to see one of these “impartial” doctors.
Minimizing Payouts: How Insurance Companies Make Money
Consider this plausible example of a workplace injury to get an idea of how insurance companies operate and think behind the scenes:
An employee named Scott was repairing a light fixture when it suddenly came loose, shattering and causing several cuts to Scott’s face and forearm.
While the cuts weren’t severe and would heal with time, Scott was worried that there may be shards of glass in his eye, which he wanted to get checked out.
When you’re hurt at work, the insurance company wants to get a professional medical opinion to figure out whether your employer is financially responsible, and to know just how much the insurance company will need to pay for lost wages, medical expenses, disability or other workers compensation benefits.
Of course, the insurance company is hoping to pay you as little as possible, and they’re really hoping to pay you nothing at all. That’s just how the insurance industry operates.
Scott had no idea that the doctor he’d been referred to has a business relationship with the insurance company.
Sadly, that’s all too common—insurance companies refer hurt workers to the same doctors in the hopes that these doctors will recommend reduced or zero benefits, and doctors downplay the significance of their patient’s injuries in the hopes of getting more referrals.
Don’t Take No For an Answer
Scott’s doctor told Scott he was fine, giving him a prescription for a tiny tube of eye ointment and sending him home. Unfortunately, days went by and Scott’s eyes were only getting worse. Instead of returning to the same doctor, he went to his own family practitioner.
Scott’s usual doctor was appalled at the other clinic’s misdiagnosis—there was indeed a small piece of broken glass lodged in Scott’s eye. Of course, the other doctor didn’t “miss” the glass. It’s just that finding said piece of glass would leave the insurance company on the hook for far more money than a few superficial cuts and scrapes.
Although this story might sound unbelievable, it does happen. If something doesn’t seem right, you have to trust your gut.
Get Help ASAP
Insurance companies will do everything they can to wear you out, make you feel frustrated, and eventually settle on receiving benefits that are far less than what you actually deserve.
Your best defense against these sorts of games is to hire an Montana workers comp attorney who won’t cave to their bullying and outright harassment. Remember, the person with the most vested interested in looking out for your health is you—don’t let someone else tell you that you’re fine.
The end game of these independent medical evaluations is to give the insurance adjuster a reason to diminish your benefits or close your claim because you’re not really hurt or because your injury wasn’t work-related, period.
When you’re hurt at work, see your own doctor who you can actually trust to put your health above petty financial matters. It’s common for people who’ve been told by IME doctors that they have NO injuries to later win workers compensation cases because they got a second opinion from a trustworthy doctor.
If you have any questions or have been injured either at work at home in Montana, get in touch with us ASAP or find our nearest location to you. We offer free consultations, with no risk at all it’s much better to be safe than sorry.