If you suffer from chronic back pain due to a herniated disc then you’ve likely considered a number of treatment options including back surgery and physical therapy (PT).
Both options, of course, cost time and money. While most health insurance plans will (at least partially) cover spine surgery like spinal fusion, microdiscectomy, and disc replacement, the amount they cover will vary. Determining which plans cover which kinds of PT, under what conditions, and at what price, may be even harder to discern. On top of that, different states have different requirements and different insurance companies offer a variety of plans.
All that to say…
It’s not always easy finding the right healthcare to cover your back pain needs
Thankfully, the internet makes this process easier by helping us determine which treatments and which health insurance plans may be the best fit for each of our specific needs.
Listed below are three different websites with health insurance comparisons to help you find the right coverage. As a “bonus”, we’ve even added two more websites to help you find the closest doctor or physical therapist who best suits your needs.
Top 3 Websites to Help You Compare Health Insurance Benefits
- eHealth Insurance. It offers quotes for a number of different types of insurance and the interface is relatively straightforward. Click on the “health” tab and then answer about half a dozen questions including age, zip code, height, weight, and household income. You will eventually be given some health insurance options in your area to consider. You will have to navigate to the actual health insurance company websites for specifics.
- Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports is the consummate shoppers guide offering reviews and comparisons for all variety of goods and services. Their health insurance page is pretty straightforward. Click on the drop down menus to choose your preferred plan type (HMO, PPO, etc.) and your state. It will display a list of clickable plans ranked in order of consumer satisfaction, treatment coverage for common conditions, and providing preventive services.
- Healthcare.gov. Whether or not you think it’s a worthwhile government endeavor, it looks like the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (or “Obamacare”) will be around for a while. If you’re considering enrolling, then this is the website to hit. Upon entering your zip code, you will either be directed to your state government’s health insurance website or, if your state doesn’t have one, directly to the federal government’s health insurance website. Once there, you can find the plans that are available to you and easily compare them.
Now that you’ve found the right healthcare plan, you need to find the right provider!
When it comes to finding a good spine surgeon or physical therapist, patients have traditionally relied on their primary doctor’s recommendation or word of mouth from friends, family and colleagues. Once again, the internet can help you in your research. A quick Google search can often help locate a nearby provider. However, if you’re looking for a bit more information, you may want to check out Yelp or Zocdoc.
Find the Right Doctor with These 2 Websites
- Yelp. Most people are already familiar with Yelp but if for some reason you’re not, jump on now. Yelp is a consumer-driven website that allows you to check out ratings and reviews for most any good or service – including surgeons and physical therapists. Just enter your hometown and type in what you’re looking for (eg. “spine surgery”, “discectomy”, “physical therapy”, etc.). A list of local practices will pop up within seconds. You can then sort these results by user rating and read reviews for more information. Some businesses even offer discounts and the ability to book directly through the Yelp. It couldn’t be easier!
- ZocDoc. Similar to Yelp except it focuses exclusively on doctors and other health care services. Just enter the specialty you’re seeking and your hometown and Zocdoc will quickly produce a list of doctors or therapists along with consumer ratings. If you already have insurance, you may enter your provider’s name anytime to see which spinal surgeon or physical therapists are covered. ZocDoc shows available appointment windows for each office and you can book directly through the website.
As with any major healthcare choice, especially if you’ve been experiencing severe chronic back pain, it’s best to consult a doctor.
Seeking a second opinion on your back pain treatment?
Contact us or call us today at 855-377-4767
For those of you in the corporate work force—or for those of you who keep track of the changing trends in the healthcare—you may have heard about wellness benefits and wellness management companies.
What are wellness benefits and the companies that manage them?
Let us explain! Wellness benefits are employer-sponsored benefits provided to employees as a preventative measure to improve and maintain the general health of employees.
Many large companies are now teaming up with wellness or surgery benefits management programs to help give their plan members access to the tools and resources they need to make the most informed decision when considering an elective surgery.
Companies are looking to these wellness management partners to improve healthcare quality and results for their members while also keeping the overall program costs contained.
The employee avoids unnecessary surgery.
The employer reduces their costs.
It’s a win win.
To put that in real-life terms, let’s take a look at an example: an employee who is considering spinal fusion surgery. One of the wellness benefits the employee may receive is the option to get a second opinion before undergoing surgery. Since nearly 30% of all spinal surgeries are deemed medically unnecessary, there’s a size-able chance that the employee will learn that they don’t, in fact, need the surgery and that less invasive option may alleviate their condition.
As a result of these wellness benefits, the employee avoids unnecessary surgery. And the employer has reduced their costs. It’s a win win.
This model makes sense for everyone involved and is the likely future of healthcare insurance.
Before we sign off on this post, I’ll address one question you may still have:
Why would a surgeon recommend surgery that’s unnecessary?
Sadly, it could be for their own potential gain. If they perform the surgery, they will receive greater compensation. A second opinion ensures there is no such bias—which is the very reason we started Second Opinion Spine.
Of course, the initial recommendation may also be well intentioned, but misguided. If a surgeon is familiar with one, specific type of surgery, they may be quick to recommend it and, subsequently, overlook other—less invasive—options.
If you are considering spinal surgery…
If you or a loved one are considering spinal surgery, please contact Second Opinion Spine today. Simply fill out the form on the right side of this page or call us at 855-377-4767.
Even if your company doesn’t provide wellness benefits, we strive to keep our costs affordable so you can receive quality advice and peace of mind.
As we enter the year 2015, more and more patients are enrolling in “healthcare exchange programs”, also known as Obamacare.
As this takes please, patients need to recognize the impact this may have on physicians and their decision-making process. This article from Forbes nicely highlights some of the ethical dilemmas physicians face practicing in this new healthcare environment and what patients can do to protect themselves.
What this article doesn’t mention is that physicians are now being reimbursed less for surgical procedures which incentives them to offer patients more surgery.
In addition, patients are limited in their ability to see physicians outside of their specific network and are sometimes “pigeon-holed” into seeing only one provider–and subsequently only receiving one point of view about their health needs.
As a result, a second opinion for spinal surgery is not only important but prudent–now more than ever.
Having performed spinal surgery for a cumulative 30 years, my partner Dr. David Kramer and I regularly encounter patients who have received recommendations for surgery from other doctors that simply don’t address their needs. Why undergo surgery unless it’s absolutely necessary? In cases such as these, we explain to the patient what their non-surgical options are and encourage them to pursue these solutions rather than undergoing the knife.
As we’ve reviewed more and more cases like these, it has underscored a truth we’ve always known: second opinions are invaluable and can help save people from costly and invasive surgery.
Unfortunately, too many people simply don’t get spinal surgery second opinions, either because they are unaware of the value or because of the potentially prohibitive cost (particularly if your health insurance doesn’t cover the expense!).
To help address his need, we created Second Opinion Spine. Now, you can get trustworthy second opinions easily and economically.
Here’s how it works:
- Submit your contact information here.
- A member of our staff will contact you for more information about your spinal condition.
- One of our expertly trained surgeons (David or I) will review your case and contact you personally to give you a second opinion and discuss your options.
It’s just that simple.
If you are in need of a second opinion, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help!