- Myth: Your doctor referred you to a specialist, so they must be covered by your insurance. Doctors spend eight years going to med school to learn how to fix you. They don’t spend that time understanding the complicated health insurance maze. Their focus is to get you the best care, which might be to refer you to someone else who is better suited to help your specific need. They send you to who they know and trust. They don’t check to make sure that doctor is in the same network. You need to call your insurance company to verify they will cover your appointment with a new doctor. This is especially true of any surgery you undergo. Your surgeon and the hospital may be in your network, but it’s possible that your anesthesiologist is a contractor and not covered. I’ve heard horror stories of patients receiving crazy surgery bills because someone in the room during the procedure was not in the same network even though the hospital was. Be proactive, talk to your insurance company and even the hospital billing or administration office before an expensive procedure.
- Myth: Your doctor is always right. It’s called the Practice of Medicine because they don’t always have the right answer. It’s ok to get a second opinion. It can be intimidating to question your doctor. They’re the experts, right? All doctors receive the same training, but each one is an individual and can come to different conclusions when presented the same information. Don’t be afraid of hurting your doctor’s feelings. If you want a second opinion, speak up. You could ask for another doctor in the same practice to review your chart or go to a completely new doctor. I have a family friend who had a gut feeling that her doctor was wrong in his diagnosis and treatment plan. She immediately made an appointment with someone else who discovered she had cancer. Her instincts to question her doctor probably saved her life.
- Myth: Your doctor isn’t taking enough time with you. Depending on the specialty, each appointment is only allotted a certain amount of time. A GP typically builds in 10-15 minutes for each patient, while a Headache Specialist may reserve 30-45 min per patient. If patients run late or more in-depth discussions are needed, it affects everyone down the line waiting to see the doctor. Insurance companies and Medicare push doctors to see as many patients as possible to maximize profits. If you feel rushed in your appointment, don’t always blame the doctor. Be prepared for your appointment with written questions and even suggestions for your treatment plan. When you schedule your appointment, ask the scheduler how much time is expected to be given during your visit. To learn how to prepare for your appointment: https://migraine.com/getting-help/prepare-docto-visit/
- Myth: Medication is the only way to manage your illness. Being given medication to treat our medical issues seems to somehow validate that we in fact do suffer from an ailment and need treatment. However, certain medications can have severe side effects, even ones with long term consequences. Taking a pill is much easier than making lifestyle changes that could have similar effects (in some cases). For example, Type 2 Diabetes is reversible if a patient changes their eating habits and exercises. I’m not saying medications should not be used, but a combination of meds and alternative methods should be considered, especially with a chronic illness. I’m a big believer in yoga and meditation, but I still take preventatives and abortives to manage my Migraines. However, yoga makes me feel stronger, even during an attack and I believe it helps me to get over the Migraine faster. If you want to learn more about Complementary Alternative Methods (CAM), Tammy has written an excellent series on the subject: https://migraine.com/blog/migraineurs-guide-cam-introduction/
Have you found any special tips or tricks to deal with managing your illness? Please share!