Help me play the HMO game and win

I updated my back situation in this thread…basically, the disc at L5/S1 is a big painful mess. A very large protrusion (8-9mm) to the left, displacing a nerve root and having significant effect on the thecal sac, a posterior annular tear, a disc fragment out the right side, blah blah blah…basically, it’s a mess and needs fixing.

My father has a long history of severe back problems and has suffered permanent damage from being treated by the wrong person. My parents are strongly urging me to see the one specialist they’ve come to trust–he’s been able to make big improvements in my father (as best he can) and is not, as my mom put it, “knife happy.”

But, he is an hour away and of course, outside of my selected HMO group. I know the HMO mantra and pattern–go to who they tell me to go to. But if I have a specialist I prefer to see, is there a way for me to work the system so I can see him? And how can I go about getting second opinions?

It’s a dance, really; an odd game that I can’t afford to lose. So–how can I play this game and win? (Or at least…not lose…)