TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
It is important to communicate your feelings, questions, and concerns with your healthcare provider before having surgery. The following suggestions may help to improve communication between you and your healthcare provider:
- If you do not understand your healthcare provider's responses, ask questions until you do.
- Take notes, and/or ask a family member or friend to accompany you and take notes for you.
- Ask your healthcare provider to write down his or her instructions, if necessary.
- Ask your healthcare provider where you can find printed material about your condition. Many healthcare providers have this information in their offices.
- If you still have questions, ask the healthcare provider where you can go for more information.
LEARNING ABOUT YOUR SURGEON
Before you have surgery, discuss the costs with someone from the finance department at your healthcare provider's office. These costs may include the following:
- The surgeon's fee for surgery
- Hospital fees(if you need hospitalization) or Ambulatory Surgical Center fees (for outpatient services). Check with the hospital's business office regarding these rates. Your healthcare provider or surgeon should be able to give you an approximate idea of how long you will be in the hospital.
- Separate billing for other services. You will also be billed separately for the professional services of others who might be involved in your care, such as the assisting surgeon, anesthesiologist, and other medical consultants.
Check with your health plan before surgery to be certain of what portion of the costs you will be responsible for. If your anticipated costs present a problem, discuss other financial solutions with your healthcare provider before the surgery.
GETTING A SECOND OPINION
Asking another healthcare provider or surgeon for a second opinion is an important step in making sure that this particular procedure is the best choice for you. A second opinion can help you make an informed decision about the best treatment for your condition and can help you weigh the risks and benefits against possible alternatives to the surgery.
Several health plans now require and will pay for patients to obtain a second opinion on certain nonemergency procedures. Medicare may also pay for patients to obtain a second opinion. Even if your plan does not require this, you still can ask for a second opinion.
If you decide to get a second opinion, check with your health plan to see if it is covered. Your primary healthcare provider or hospital can provide you with names of qualified healthcare providers. Be sure to get your medical records from your first healthcare provider so that the second one does not need to repeat tests and procedures.
Remember, in the case of emergency surgeries, the surgery should be done as quickly as possible. Most likely, there will not be time to get a second opinion. The necessity of getting a second opinion should always be weighed against the severity and urgency of the medical condition.