When to Get a Second Opinion
by Nellie S. Huang for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine
“Your doctor has just diagnosed you with a serious disease, or recommended a costly procedure, or advised you to have major surgery. Before panicking or following a drastic course of treatment, get a second opinion. Not only can a medical evaluation from a different doctor help you learn more about your illness, the options available to you, and the risks and benefits of each path, but it can also ‘give you the confidence and peace of mind that you’re making a good decision,’ says Robert Nielsen, medical director of PinnacleHealth System in central Pennsylvania.
Most insurance policies will cover the fee for a second opinion as they would cover a regular office visit, but it’s always wise to check with your insurer before you schedule the appointment, especially if you plan to go out of network. ‘In some cases, such as certain elective surgical procedures, a second opinion is mandatory,’ says John Ulatowski, vice president and executive medical director of Johns Hopkins Medicine International, in Baltimore.
Ask for referrals from people you trust—your primary care physician, the doctor who delivered your first opinion, your family and friends. Avoid seeing a colleague at the same practice or medical center as the doctor who gave you the first opinion—the approach to care can vary from place to place. For example, ‘some cancer centers are more aggressive about treatment; others are more concerned about side effects,’ says Jerome Groopman, Recanati Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
For cases that involve a specific procedure—for example, heart-valve replacement surgery—consult a doctor who frequently performs those surgeries.” Read more