Effective February 1, 2013, the Nevada fee schedule that governs health care providers under the Nevada workers’ compensation system, raised the PPD (permanent partial disability) reimbursement to $718.96. If the rating physician is rating more than two body parts, he or she can charge an additional $240.11 for each additional body part. For example, the fee schedule states that the cervical spine constitutes one body part, the thoracic spine another body part, and the lumbar spine constitutes a separate body part for rating and billing purposes. If an injured worker has injuries to the neck, the low back, and to the right wrist, the rating physician’s bill will be $959.07.
Injured workers who disagree with the first rating or the percentage offered by the industrial insurer must pay these same rates when they obtain a second rating by following the procedure in NRS 616C. 100. With these high costs, it is essential that the injured worker gets a fair and accurate rating the first time around when the insurer must pay for it. Although the law allows a hearings or an appeals officer to order an insurer to reimburse an injured worker for a second rating if the second rating is found to be more accurate, there are no guarantees that a second rating will result in a higher percentage, or that a hearing or appeals officer will agree that the higher percentage is correct.
It is difficult for Injured workers to find an extra $718.96 to pay for a second exam, even if they are likely to be reimbursed. Also, it takes time to file appeals and contest the first rating, and the injured worker cannot accept the disputed first percentage in a lump sum while litigating the first percentage.
Here are a few things I may do representing an injured worker do to get the first rating correct:
- Ask the adjuster to agree with me on which of the 145 doctors on the DIR’s rating list will evaluate the client.
- Make sure that the rating physician is rating all accepted body parts.
- I go with the client to the rating with a copy of the medical records, so that if the doctor is missing an important record, like an operative report, I have a copy ready.
- I know the AMA Guides and am prepared to discuss complex issues such as apportionment of pre-existing conditions or how a particular body part should be rated.
- I obtain a copy of the rating evaluation as soon as it is done so that I can resolve any problems by writing to the rating doctor before the adjuster sends a determination letter.
- I may have the rating report reviewed by a rating doctor at a cost less than the full cost of an exam to confirm a suspected error and then ask the rating doctor for an addendum.
- I prepare a persuasive argument for the hearing officer after filing an appeal that the first rating is wrong under the AMA Guides, and ask that the insurer be required to pay for a second rating.
- Finally, if I think the first rating is incorrect and that the second rating phsycian who is assigned by the DIR is likely to find a higher percentage, I file an appeal and schedule a second exam.