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Finding a great specialist, it’s all about knowing what to ask

3 minute read
Sick young woman searching on laptop for a great specialist

You’ve made an appointment with your GP to discuss a serious health concern and it’s likely you’ll be leaving the practice with a specialist referral in your hand. But, how do you find a specialist? How do you know if they’re any good? How do you know if they’ll charge you out-of-pockets?

All too often patients forget that they have control over which specialist they visit – and not only can choosing the right specialist save you time and money, but it also means you have the power when it comes to your health.

At nib, we’re passionate about keeping it simple, so we’ve put together some easy tips for finding a great specialist.

Get options

Before you leave your GP, ask them for a list of recommended specialists. Although many GPs will have one key specialist they tend to refer patients to, it’s important to get a few options – and remember that your GP referral can be transferred to a specialist that you choose, so long as they’re in the same speciality field. Find out more in our article Can I take my referral to any specialist?.

Your GP referral can be transferred to whichever specialist you choose as long as they’re in the same speciality field

Make some calls

Once you’ve got a list of specialists, it’s time to make a few phone calls. Ring their offices and ask for their availability and wait-list times, the hospitals they work from, their experience and how to find out what their costs are.

Check with your health fund

Not only can nib confirm what you’re covered for, but we can also let you know the average out-of-pockets for your procedure and tell you which local specialists we have agreements with. We offer a MediGap scheme to customers which might cover all of the extra costs that a doctor or specialist might charge. Specialists can choose to participate in the MediGap scheme on a case-by-case basis, so it is important to check with your specialist whether they are prepared to charge you the MediGap fee for your procedure.

Female patient asking her doctor questions at his clinic

Consider alternatives

If you are overweight or have a long-term health condition like diabetes, high-blood pressure, depression, high-cholesterol or you’re on four or more medications, you may benefit from nib’s Health Management Programs to avoid the need for surgery. These programs typically include expert health coaching and additional services with the goal of supporting customers with or at risk of preventable hospitalisations as a result of chronic disease.

Ask the tough questions

Don’t be afraid to ask your specialist the tough questions. It’s their job to explain your treatment options, risks involved, their experience and exact fees associated with the procedure.

Ask around

Last (but not least), ask friends and family members if they’ve had experience dealing with the specialist you’re considering.

If you're an nib member heading to hospital soon, make sure you check out our Going to Hospital page. This tool gives you information on health insurance, tips on how to reduce any out-of-pocket expenses and helpful questions to ask your specialist. To find out the details of your current policy, chat to someone about your upcoming hospital visit or get some guidance, call us on 13 16 42.

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