In a healthcare world still dominated by HMOs, we’ve all become more dependent on general practicioners to provide targeted recommendations and insights about our health problems. This is perfectly acceptable when you’ve got a persistent cold, or run of the mill allergies, or a mild infection. However, when it comes to chronic pain, complicated or severe allergies, or any other injury or illness that doesn’t respond to treatment, your best bet is to see a health specialist.
Yes, we know, your insurer requires a referral to see a specialist and the co-pay is higher, but what you lose in cash you more than make up for in expertise and insight. Let’s say you hurt your knee playing soccer. You ice it, take some ibuprofen, rest, and two weeks later, it’s still painful and you’re unable to walk on it. You visit your GP, who tells you that you may need a referral to an orthopedic health specialist. What seeing a specialist gives you in this case is the expertise to know if you’ve just got a bad sprain, or if you’ve damaged ligaments, tendons, created a stress fracture, or any number of other problems that your GP’s office isn’t equipped to test for. Yes, you could go to the Emergency Room, but as a non-urgent case you’ll likely wait for at least an hour, and your ER co-pay probably hovers around $100, which is usually double what a specialist co-pay is. And an orthopedist isn’t the only kind of specialist worth seeing. Neurologists, Cardiologists, Allergists, Ear Nose and Throat Specialist, Gastroenterologists and Dermatologists are all specialists that can be worth seeing, even if you’re not suffering a severe illness.