In October 2021, COMAR 14.09.03.08B(6) was amended to allow an employer and insurer to recover “reasonable expenses and costs actually incurred” when a claimant misses an Independent Medical Examination (IME) without good cause. Previously, an employer or insurer could only recover up to $125 for such IME “no-show” fees, and that amount was insufficient to account for the actual costs incurred.
The amendment is financially significant. Over the last several years, no-show costs for employers/insurers have caused substantial costs with minimal recoupment. The change should incentivize claimants to attend IMEs to avoid significant no-show fees, which can easily exceed $500-$1,000 per missed appointment.
The updated regulation reads: “If a claimant fails to appear at, refuses to submit to, or fails to cooperate with the medical examination, without good cause, the Commission may order the claimant to attend a medical examination and order reimbursement of reasonable expenses and costs actually incurred because of the missed examination.” COMAR 14.09.03.08B(6)
Until the change was implemented, claimants had no serious financial consequence for failing to appear for an IME given the $125 cap, and that left employers/insurers footing most of the doctor’s bill. The new regulation places fees for missed appointments squarely on the claimant, provided the fees are reasonable and the claimant was properly notified in advance of the IME. It will remain incumbent on the employer/insurers to ensure that notice was properly given to claimant and their counsel.
This change will also help keep workers’ compensation claims moving quicker in Maryland, as it should help minimize missed IMEs and thus reduce postponed hearings and delayed proceedings. The reimbursement amount will depend on the particular medical provider’s no-show fee policy, and it is not guaranteed that a claimant must pay the full amount. Rather, a Commissioner must still find the fee amount “reasonable.”
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