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Reliable Resources for Finding Specialists in Cancer Treatment

Don't Forget to Check Your Health Insurance Plan

As you are beginning your search for a doctor for your cancer treatment, you may want to start by checking your health insurance plan. Some insurance companies may limit your choice to doctors who participate in your particular plan. Your insurance company can give you a list of the participating primary care doctors and specialists. If you have already found a doctor you want to use, ask if he or she will accept new patients through your health plan.
 
You can also choose a doctor outside of your insurance plan and pay the costs yourself. However, keep in mind that the costs of cancer treatment can be incredibly high. If you do consider this option, you may want to discuss the possible costs with your doctor beforehand. You may also consider changing your health insurance plan if you have found a different doctor that you want to use.
 
If you are using a federal or state health insurance program, such as Medicare or Medicaid, you should make sure and ask if the doctor accepts patients covered by these plans.
 

Do I Need a Second Opinion?

Some healthcare plans require that you get a second opinion, especially if surgery is recommended. A second opinion is when you have another doctor's opinion after you receive the initial cancer diagnosis by one doctor. This is done by having another specialist review all of the medical information related to your case. This doctor will give a second opinion that may confirm the original diagnosis and treatment plan, or he or she may suggest modifications to the first doctor's proposed treatment plan.
 
In some cases, healthcare plans will cover the costs for a second opinion if you request it. Some plans, however, will not cover the costs of a second opinion. In this case, you can still obtain a second opinion, but you will have to pay for the costs out of pocket.
 
Your doctor can recommend a specialist for a second opinion. You can also do the research on your own to find one. Some reliable resources other than the ones already listed that may help with finding a doctor for a consultation on a second opinion include:
 
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, which is a research hospital for the NIH and the NCI. Several branches of the NCI provide second opinion consultations. You can find the NCI fact sheet that describes these branches and their services at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/nci/clinical-center.
 
  • The R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation, Inc., can refer people to institutions that are willing to provide second opinions. You can find a list of these institutions at www.blochcancer.org/resources/multidisciplinary-second-opinion-centers.
 
Regardless if your insurance company covers the cost of a second opinion, you may want to get one if you feel any uncertainty about the proposed treatment plan. You may also want to consider getting a second opinion when:
 
  • You want to make sure you have explored all available treatment options
  • You are concerned the doctor has underestimated the seriousness of your condition
  • Your doctor is uncertain about the diagnosis
  • You have a rare type of cancer
  • Your treatment plan recommends surgery and you want to find out if there are nonsurgical treatments.
 
In some cases, your health insurance may require you to get a second opinion before they will pay for your cancer treatment.
 
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