Physicians are required to complete many years of schooling, including post-secondary education, residency, fellowship, and more. All of this education and experience allows them to effectively serve their patients to the best of their ability. However, sometimes a patient may question their doctor’s opinion. In cases where an invasive surgical procedure is needed or for other serious medical decisions, you may decide that you would like to receive a second opinion to confirm your primary physician’s decision. In these cases, Medicare recipients may have coverage for a second opinion.

When To Seek a Second Opinion
People make mistakes on a daily basis, and doctors are not immune to this. Each physician has their own tendencies and preferences in regard to care. Some may be very conservative in their treatments and try to address health issues while avoiding surgery and other serious procedures at all costs. Other physicians may try to solve an issue as quickly as possible, regardless of the procedure needed.

Not every patient fully agrees with their doctor’s plan of action in every situation, and sometimes they want to have some reinforcement when it comes to making a big health decision, such as having surgery or choosing treatment for cancer or a serious health disease. In these scenarios, a second opinion can be helpful.

Second opinions can be used to confirm what your primary doctor has already recommended, giving you peace of mind to proceed, or it may provide a completely alternative treatment plan and diagnosis. In either case, receiving another opinion can be useful to ensure you are getting the proper and best care available for your specific situation.

Does a Second Opinion Make a Difference?

You may be wondering whether or not getting a second opinion would really make a difference in regard to the diagnosis or treatment plan you receive. One study found that almost one out of five patients was incorrectly diagnosed after their initial visit. They also found that almost 90 percent of patients seeking a second opinion had their diagnosis refined or altered during their second visit.

While not every health situation requires a second opinion, there are a few times when it could be beneficial. If you have been diagnosed with a specific health condition by a doctor and are being treated for it, but your symptoms are not improving at all, a second opinion could be necessary. This would allow another specialist to take a look at your symptoms and either confirm or change your current diagnosis, allowing you to get the best care possible.

A second opinion could also be beneficial if the recommended treatment is invasive, surgical, or may have lasting consequences. If a surgical procedure is risky and does not carry a high success rate, it may be best to see if there are any alternative treatment options available.

Medicare Benefits for Second Opinions
Medicare recipients are covered to receive alternative opinions in regard to serious health issues, such as a recommended surgery or other invasive procedures. However, a person’s Medicare benefits will not cover them for non-pressing health issues, such as cosmetic surgery.

Medicare Part B provides coverage for these consultations because they are received in out-patient facilities and not in a hospital setting. For Part B, the associated costs often include your annual deductible and 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount, as long as your physician is participating in Medicare and accepts assignment.

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