Although some people undergo elective surgeries to improve their appearance, correct injured areas, or ensure a more permanent form of birth control, just for example, most people are understandably wary of agreeing to surgery, whether it’s necessary or not. That said, it is not uncommon for doctors to recommend a surgical procedure if they think it is the best option for a patient to overcome health concerns and lead a full and happy life. But it is up to you, as the patient, to decide if surgery is the right option for you. It is imperative that you take control of your own healthcare by taking the time to do research on your condition and the surgery recommended to treat it. And this is especially true if the portion you’ll be expected to pay for the treatment is well beyond your means. If you’re not keen on the idea of surgery or the associated costs, here are a few things you may want to consider.
Ask about alternatives. Although doctors may not be terribly forthcoming with alternative options once they’ve already recommended surgery, most are well aware of other treatment options available to you. So press them to offer you other choices, along with the potential benefits, risks, and costs. Or if they are unable or unwilling to offer this information for liability reasons (i.e. because it is outside the scope of their specialization), ask for referrals to appropriate specialists for further consultation before you go ahead with surgery.
Shop around. If you’re delivered the news that surgery is your best (or only) option, you’ll naturally want to get a second opinion anyway. And like any type of purchase in a consumer-driven society, it’s in your best interest to shop around. This can help you to determine if you really need surgery in the first place, as well as who can offer the experience and skill you seek at a price you can afford. You’ll also want to make sure that any doctor you choose accepts your medical insurance.
Don’t go under. Not all surgical procedures require the patient to be put under general anesthesia (although some do). If you have a choice, you may want to forego general anesthesia. This can not only greatly reduce the risk factor associated with your surgical procedure, but it can also cut the cost of your surgery.
Seek donations. There are plenty of charitable organizations out there to help patients suffering with a variety of medical issues. For example, St. Jude Children’s Hospital provides free treatment to children suffering from cancer. And there are a variety of other organizations devoted to helping those who cannot afford the treatments they need to survive certain diseases and disorders. So you may want to seek out charities or even individuals that can help to cover the costs of your surgical procedures.
Negotiate. Whether you’re undergoing treatment at the USC Norris Cancer Hospital or you’re addressing orthopedic conditions with common procedures at Matthys Orthopedics, you should know that there may be some room to negotiate on the price. In most cases, doctors will work with you to set up a schedule for payment that you can afford. And many are willing to negotiate in order to come up with a price for surgical procedures that will allow you to follow through with necessary treatment. All you have to do is ask.