Recent changes in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act have created potential new challenges for injured workers. The stated intention of the changes is to make the program more efficient and flexible. However, the changes are significant enough that the average worker will not be aware of their new options and specific requirements for compliance.

These new elements of the law make it more important than ever to contact an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney. For example, the amendments that are included in the new compensation establish Preferred Provider Programs. This change affects the manner in which employees select their own treating medical providers. The amendments to the existing law also change the employer’s role in providing first aid and emergency service, as well as the two treating doctors.

The options employees have are largely determined by whether or not the employer is enrolled in a PPP. Because the employee has more choices, it is vital to understand what each situation means for treatment:

  • If the employer is enrolled in a PPP, a worker must make a decision to opt in or out of that program. Employees choosing to participate will have the choice of up to two doctors from the listed medical providers and the providers they may recommend. Those employees opting out of their employer’s PPP are limited to selecting only one doctor and the providers that doctor may recommend.
  • Employees of companies not enrolled in a PPP will have the right to select up to two doctors for medical treatment as well as the providers those doctors may recommend.

A workers’ compensation attorney who has carefully studied these new changes will point out that emergency care and first aid does not count against the number of doctors allowed. At the same time, non-emergency care by a doctor may eliminate the opportunity to choose another provider.

Employees retain the right to see a third doctor, but the employer has no obligation to pay that provider, and it may be left to the employee to cover that expense.

Additional amendments to the act cover a number of areas related to the benefits and processes by which they are adjudicated. This includes such items of concern to employees as how permanent disability is determined. These are just a few reasons the new changes call for the input of an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney.