In last week’s article, we highlighted the many ways an advocate who is a friend or family member can help you while you’re in the hospital. This week, we’ll talk about how a professional health advocacy service can assist you when you’re in the hospital.
Like advocates who are your friends or family members, professional health advocacy services can handle a variety of helpful tasks. But while the friends and family advocates do some of their best work right by your side in the hospital, a professional health advocacy service often does its best work behind the scenes, over the phone or via email. Figuratively, they’re at your side—but people from professional health advocacy services are generally not physically present with you at the hospital.
While no two professional health advocacy services are exactly the same, nor do they offer exactly the same types of assistance, here’s a list of some common ways these companies may be able to help you:
- Secure second opinions. Not sure if you really need the procedure that your provider has recommended? An advocate can help you connect with another provider who can offer a second opinion.
- Help you find an in-network provider. So your doctor told you that you need a hip replacement…but you don’t know where to go for it. An advocate can help you find providers in your area who take your insurance, are board-certified, and can perform the procedure.
- Schedule medical appointments. In addition to finding an in-network provider for you, an advocate can help schedule appointments for you to see that provider.
- Help you estimate the cost of your medical procedure. To avoid any sticker shock after the procedure has been completed, it’s a good idea to get a cost estimate beforehand so that you have a better idea of what to expect.
- Transfer medical records. Do your records need to be sent from your primary doctor to the hospital where you’re having your surgery? Your advocate can often facilitate this.
- Clarify insurance coverage. Not sure what your insurance does and doesn’t cover? Your advocate can read the fine print and help answer your questions.
- Research transportation to and from your medical procedure. Let your advocate help find reliable transportation services that you can use so that all you have to worry about is getting better.
- Connect you to the right post-surgery help. Will you need in-home care while you recover? Will you need meal delivery or a dog-walking service? Your advocate can help you arrange for these types of services, and more.
- Help you understand your EOBs. When Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) come in the mail, they’re not always easily understandable. EOBs detail what you had done during your procedure and how much your insurance is planning to pay and how much you are expected to pay. Sometimes the insurance-ese in EOBs is intimidating to read—but luckily, your advocate can help you understand exactly what this paperwork says and what it means for you.
- Handle coverage denials and help with appeals. If your insurance company has denied you coverage for some or all of your medical procedure, you’re not alone—your advocate can help. An advocate can research the issue, attempt to fight a coverage denial, and file an appeal on your behalf.
- Negotiate with providers. When a patient is faced with a large medical bill, advocacy services are often able to negotiate with medical providers to reduce the amount of money the patient has to pay.
- Read over medical bills to ensure there are no errors. An advocate can read over your medical bills to make sure you weren’t charged twice, charged for something you didn’t actually receive, etc.
- If an error is found on a medical bill, work to resolve it. This can help put money back in your pocket!
Often, professional health advocacy services are available to you through your employer, at no cost to you. Check with your workplace’s benefits specialist or Human Resources department to find out if your employer includes an advocacy service as part of your benefits package. If you don’t have access to a professional health advocacy service through your employer, there are several advocacy services you could sign up with independently. While this could mean some out-of-pocket costs for you, that price is small compared to the potential cost-savings and conveniences (like resolving any errors on medical bills) that a professional health advocate could help you receive.
Want to know more about health advocacy and how it can benefit you? Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org!