An elderly couple we know have suddenly and unexpectedly gone through dual health problems at nearly the same time. The wife injured her arm, making it difficult for her to lift or carry things. Her husband developed multiple myeloma, causing cancerous tumors along his spine. He cannot walk without a cane or other assistance. She cannot help him. They both are in physical therapy. His chemotherapy includes numerous pills a day. Their children do not live close enough to help with all the details of life ... handling doctor's visits, insurance forms, bills, etc. Overwhelmed, their children hired a healthcare advocate to make certain the parents are getting the help they need.
The healthcare advocate will not carry the laundry for the wife; nor will the advocate help the man walk. Her job is to help them hire a caregiver, go to doctor's appointments with them, get answers to their questions about treatment, make sure they are getting the attention and care they need and, at the same time, help them with insurance forms and other paperwork.
What Does a Healthcare Advocate Do?
Below is a list of the duties of a healthcare advocate. Most people will not need all of these services. However, it can be beneficial to have someone capable of handling these issues for you when you or a close family member is seriously ill:
• Are you confused about choosing a new doctor or specialist? The healthcare advocate can provide you with a physician referral service.
• Frustrated with your insurance company? They will handle insurance disputes for you (fight for your payment, and handle insurance appeals & grievances).
• Are your doctor and hospital bills too complicated to understand? They will perform medical bill audits and dispute any questionable fees.
• Are you paying a reasonable fee for your procedures? Many of them will have a cost navigator that is designed to help you find lower cost procedures, when appropriate.
• Are you getting the best deal for your prescriptions? They will help you compare prices.
• Are there alternative treatments or drug trials that may help you? A healthcare advocate will assist you in finding treatments that could benefit you.
• Do you have the best health insurance plan for your medical issues? Your healthcare advocate will review your current insurance plan and help you decide if you would be better off with a different one. Then, they will assist you in making the change, during the appropriate enrollment period.
• Are you using the best prescription, dental and vision plans? They will help you compare your choices and pick the appropriate one.
• What if you need to go into a nursing home or assisted living facility, either for a short time while being treated, or permanently? They will help you find one that will meet your needs both medically and financially. They can help you apply for programs such as long-term care using Medicaid or VA benefits, if you qualify.
• What if you are able to live at home during your treatment and recuperation, but only with the services of a home care aide? Your healthcare advocate can help you hire one. They can also coordinate visits with physical therapists, occupational therapists and other healthcare providers who may come to your home.
• Do you feel as if you have a million forms to complete, and you feel too ill to deal with them? The healthcare advocate can consolidate some of them and complete many parts of them for you ... especially the parts that are repetitive.
• What if your physician tells you there is nothing more they can do to help you? In this sad situation, you will be grateful for the assistance of the healthcare advocate in connecting you with caring hospice services to help you in your final days.
How Can I Find a Healthcare Advocate?
You can contact the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants
They have a member directory at:
You can also learn more about the services provided by healthcare advocates at:
info @ healthcareadvocates.com
What are the Advantages of Hiring a Healthcare Advocate?
Dealing with a serious illness can be overwhelming ... whether you are the one who is ill or it is your spouse, parents or another family member. Whenever you are under stress or don't feel well, it can seem almost impossible to deal with insurance, hospital bills, medical specialists and all the other problems.
In addition, it can be extremely difficult to search for a skilled nursing facility or to hire a home care aid for yourself, should they be needed.
Using a healthcare advocate can be expensive, but they sometimes pay for themselves by saving you money in other ways. They can also lower your stress ... important to help you heal both mentally and physically.
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