Should I get a Second Opinion?

Making educated decisions about your personal health is invaluable. It is your right to seek a second opinion when you feel it is necessary. It can be especially useful when facing a serious or life-threatening disease, when the diagnosis is not clear, or when you are unsure which treatment option you want to pursue. Often times a serious diagnosis will require immediate treatment and you may need to make a decision quickly. One way to instill confidence in your diagnosis and subsequent treatment path is by seeking a second opinion.

By educating yourself about your condition and weighing in with additional experts, you’ll have greater control over your treatment. Asking for a second opinion is common practice so you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or intimidated to ask your doctor if they are able to recommend another specialist. However, seeking a doctor at a different hospital or medical facility might open you up to more variety or treatment philosophies that may be better suited to your needs. Before your visit, it is important you remember to provide all the necessary records from your original diagnosis. You can request hard copies or have the nurse send over your paperwork to the recommended doctor.

Keep in mind that although some doctor’s opinions may differ on course of treatment, it that doesn’t necessarily mean either doctor is flat wrong. Some doctors are more conservative with treatment recommendations, while others are more aggressive. If you don’t understand a reason for something, speak up. Talking it out may give you a deeper understanding and you’ll feel more confident in your decision making as a result. In the end, it’s ultimately your decision to make.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Most insurers will pay for a second visit to an in-network provider; however, it is not guaranteed. The best thing to do is speak with a customer service representative from your insurer to be sure. You’ll want to do this prior to any treatment or second opinion to prevent delay or denial of the bill. Even if the doctor’s consultation is covered, know what services are approved before accessing your second opinion. Bring up any lab work you need done, whether the doctor is out of network, and any other services you believe may be required. Diagnostic tests can be very costly and many insurance providers will not pay for them a second time if they were recently completed. However, you have the right to have copies of any tests you have already completed, allowing you to provide them to the second doctor or medical provider for their review before or during your appointment.

Additionally, many insurance plans will pay for at least part of the cost while Medicare will cover 80% of the cost. If you feel the best options for a second opinion exist outside of the network, then you will likely need to be persistent in advocating for yourself to get insurance approval prior to visit, or choose to incur high costs related to out-of-network care. You will also need to follow your plan’s normal procedure if you are seeking a second opinion from a specialist or non-primary care doctor, coordinating referrals if needed.

If you ever have doubts about your diagnosis or treatment options, seek a second opinion. Doctors want you to feel confident with your treatment. And when it comes right down to it, it’s your life; you should feel well-informed and comfortable with your medical care.

More Expert Articles From PAF