Getting a Second Medical Opinion

May 26, 2016

We’ve all heard the phrase “second opinion” about medical care, but is this action a good idea for your senior loved one? Older people are commonly diagnosed with ailments like arthritis or high blood pressure, and seeking a second opinion may prove beneficial for several reasons. Here are some things to know about getting another medical opinion:

The Original Doctor Won’t Be Upset 

Many seniors worry their primary care physician will feel bad if they ask for a second opinion. The Patient Advocate Foundation noted that most physicians welcome another perspective. Different medical care providers have varying specialties, opinions and access to resources, so seeking advice from several doctors will likely yield several results to add to the original doctor’s findings.


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You May Get Different Answers

It’s common for people to get second opinions when they are confronted with a scary diagnosis or limited treatment options. Seniors who are diagnosed with cancer, for example, may want multiple oncologists to view their scans and offer potential methods of treatment. One doctor may recommend chemotherapy while the other opts for surgery. When considering each physician’s findings, remember that the senior patient (or the person with power of attorney) decides what to do. The doctors’ job is to present all the facts and options.


You May Have to Pay an Extra

Depending on your senior loved one’s insurance plan, he or she may have to pay out of pocket to see a second doctor. Medicare and other plans pay for around 80 percent of the cost of seeing a second doctor. And then, if necessary, these insurance options may also partially pay for the senior to visit a third physician for another opinion, depending on if the first two physicians agree on the diagnosis. Before the older person heads to the hospital and gets hit with surprise bills, help the individual contact his or her provider to learn about payment for seeing multiple doctors about the same health issue.


What Warrants a Second Opinion?

Just because people seeking a second opinion often have a particularly severe or immediate issue doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider talking to another doctor about something minor. The Center for Advancing Health shared that some patients want to confirm or deny a recent diagnosis, while others would prefer to learn about different treatment methods. Anything from Alzheimer’s disease to diabetes, gout, or even a sprained ankle may be worth getting a second physician’s opinion. Just as each doctor is different, so are the resources available at the healthcare location. Another medical professional may have access to different diagnostic imaging or more advanced training in a specific area related to the senior’s health issues.

Be sure your senior loved one brings information from their first appointment to confer with the new doctor. Imaging, test results, and treatment options are all helpful in discussing and comparing.

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