Doctor, doctor give me the news: Why are second opinions so important?
And will your insurance cover the cost of a second opinion from a specialist?
For most people, there comes a time when you will be faced with some bad news about your health or at the very least have to undergo some sort of treatment to combat disease, illness or the consequences of an accident.
Here’s the thing: people make mistakes. Even doctors. Although this is one of the professions where mistakes can mean really awful consequences, human error is always an option.
When we visit our doctor for a medical solution, we need to remember that they are drawing off of the knowledge that they have learned throughout their career. This may mean that they are very confident in some areas or diagnoses and some conditions may be unfamiliar to them. You may be presenting symptoms that are out of the ordinary or your condition may be unusually complex, which is where your doctor should be advising you to get a second opinion.
Why are second opinions important?
Think about your life outside of health. When you are buying a car, looking for new recipes or asking for advice about a breakup, you often tend to confide in more than one person. We do this to gather as much information as possible. Sure, there are some people we will trust more than others but second opinions are always useful for everyday life. The same should go for your health.
Even if you have known and consulted with your doctor for years, you shouldn’t think that they will get it right every single time. What if your doctor recommends a treatment for an illness you don’t have? What if they diagnose you for one thing when you have another? What if your doctor tells you there is nothing wrong at all (even when you know that something isn’t right). All of these instances are what make second opinions important. Your health is your wealth and should be taken very seriously, which is why relying on one person’s diagnoses can pose a huge risk.
- Take control of your rights as a healthcare consumer. When you seek out additional information, you are equipping yourself with the right knowledge about your condition.
- Verify that your diagnosis is suitable. Have all the right blood tests been done? Are there other similar but different diagnoses that are similar to yours?
- Verify if your treatment plan is appropriate and that all avenues have been explored.
Who should get a second opinion?
When you get diagnosed with something that requires immediate action, you should get a second opinion. If your life is about to be turned upside down it’s vital that you have as much information as you can in order to take control of your healing process.
Second opinions aren’t only for patients with life-threatening diagnoses like cancer or brain tumours. Second opinions can be helpful for anybody who needs to undergo treatment. Getting a second opinion on your condition can help ensure that you are getting the right treatment at the right price.
Read more about Oneplan Insurance and dread disease cover here.
Your doctor will not be offended
Medicine is supposed to be a collaborative profession. You can’t expect one person to hold all of the knowledge in the world about your condition, and your doctor should not put pressure on you to only trust their opinion.
Every day there are new advances in medicine, treatment options and technologies. It would be crazy to assume our doctors can keep up with it all. This is why your doctor will most likely reach out to their colleagues regardless of whether you ask them to or not. They will have a network of colleagues they trust and know who will have more insight into their specific field of medicine.
Will my insurance pay for a second opinion?
We can’t speak for other insurers, but we can speak for our Executive Plan that covers you for a second opinion with a specialist. If your GP refers you to a specialist for another opinion on your diagnoses (green flag for your doctor, by the way), you can claim for the appointment via your health insurance policy. For Executive Plan policyholders, you can claim for up to R3000 per specialistic visit.
Please note that these prices are reflective of the date that this article was written. For up to date pricing, please follow this link.
Here are some types of specialists you can see with Oneplan:
Here are practitioners who you may want to see for a second opinion but who you will not be able to claim for:
- Traditional healers
Having access to a second opinion from a specialist is one the most effective ways to secure your peace of mind. They are often leaders in their specific fields and will be able to guide you towards the most modern and helpful treatment options.
At Oneplan, we are passionate about you being an informed healthcare consumer. To find out more about our Executive Plan, get in touch and we will answer any questions you may have.
Yours in excellent health insurance,