Medical Benefits Under the DBA
he Defense Base Act requires employers to pay for all necessary and accident-related medical expenses. These include care with orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, family physicians, x-rays and MRI’s and occupational therapists.
Occupational diseases are also covered under the Act, including those with breathing problems, fatigue, pulmonary and cardiac conditions related to the
overseas work environment.
Psychiatric and psychological conditions are often diagnosed after an injury has occurred. These are also payable by the Employer. Injured workers may develop PTSD working in a dangerous environment for a substantial period of time. Depression and anxiety can occur as separate injuries, or as a result of a physical injury after an enemy attack, fall or lifting accident.
Workers are entitled to a one-time free-choice physician. Choosing from a list of physicians is not considered a free choice. However, if the worker treats with a doctor for a long period of time, or if he undergoes surgery, then some DBA cases state that the worker has exercised his free choice. If the worker needs to treat with more than one specialist, such as a psychiatrist and a orthopedic surgeon, in most cases, the worker will be able to choose a physician in each specialty.
Military contractors and their insurance companies routinely ignore the DBA presumption that benefits should be paid. Medical and wage loss payments are delayed. For example, when confronted by the Department of Labor, they often schedule a special examination with one of their chosen doctors. This causes further delays in paying medical bills and wage loss checks. Often, claims are denied based upon the opinion of their physician.
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