If you have a work injury claim, such as a workers’ compensation claim or L&I claim, then you can see any medical provider you choose. The only requirement is that the medical provider must be a member of the Medical Provider Network or MPN. For work injury claimants living in rural places or remote areas, finding a provider in the MPN can mean extensive travel.
How to get travel reimbursement for my workers’ compensation claim?
Under certain circumstances, the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) will reimburse injured workers for travel to medical appointments. However, you must meet three criteria in order to get reimbursement for your travels. If you think that you meet all the requirements, then you should fill a travel reimbursement form. Once you complete the form, be sure to submit it to your claim manager.
First, the medical provider must be more than 15 miles away from the residence of the work injury claimant. Second, there can’t be any other available providers that have closer offices. Third, you must get pre-authorization for the reimbursement from your L&I claim manager. Furthermore, it is important to note that you can get reimbursements for mileage, toll road payments, and parking fees in excess of $10.
What do I need to do to get travel reimbursement from L&I?
On its face, travel reimbursement seems like a relatively simple and a valuable benefit for people with L&I claim. Clearly, it’s an excellent benefit for people with a work injury that incur extraordinary travel expenses for treatment. However, practically speaking, it is rather challenging to successfully receive travel reimbursement.
One of the most frustrating problems is when a workers’ compensation claim manager questions the need for travel. In my experience, this happens all the time when work injury claimants need to change their medical provider in the middle of an L&I claim. Nearly all medical providers are reluctant to become the attending physician for an older L&I claim. Therefore, people with existing claims often need to travel afar to find a doctor that is willing to see them.
L&I claim travel reimbursement form and pre-authorization
In many cases, before authorizing travel reimbursement, some L&I claim managers require us to produce a journal showing that we tried to find a provider within 15 miles of the worker’s residence. Despite the frustration, once we submit the journal to the claim manager, the claim manager usually authorizes the reimbursement.
Another common frustration I encounter all the time is when work injury claimants are unaware of the travel reimbursement requirements. It’s common for me to speak with people with a workers’ compensation claim who completely gave up on the reimbursement process. Usually, they give up because they either don’t understand or don’t seem to meet the requirements. The most frequent mistake I see is failing to get pre-authorization. Interestingly, in most cases it’s because they do not fill out the travel reimbursement form correctly. However, having done this so many times, it is fairly easy to correct these errors.
Takeaways and final notes
In summary, if you got hurt at work and you have a workers’ compensation claim or L&I claim, if you travel to medical appointments, then you can (and should) get travel reimbursement. Remember, to get travel reimbursement and eliminate unnecessary frustration, make sure you know the requirements, fill the form above, and ask for pre-authorization from your claim manager.