Hire a Professional Advocate
You should make use of advocates already assigned to a hospital, nursing facility or company. However, if the job isn’t getting done, you might consider hiring a professional advocate. This is someone who makes it their livelihood to support and uphold patient rights. Before bringing a professional advocate on board there are a few things to consider.
Evaluate Prospective Advocates
The first step, interview your advocate. You’ll be working closely with this individual for long periods of time and they’ll need access to your personal data. Here are some questions to get you started when it comes to picking a professional advocate.
- How long have you been in the business? If it is a company, look into how long they have been working as advocates but also ask the advocate themselves.
- Have you handled similar cases and if so how many? You want to make sure that the individual you are working with as well as their company is familiar with handling cases such as yours. This will go a long way to making sure you find an advocate that is right for you.
- What are your qualifications? Remember there is no national certification for advocates so you will want someone who has experience and education in related fields such as social work.
- What are your rates? Some advocates charge by the billable hour while others charge flat rates. You want to make sure you know what you are going to be paying for and how much it is going to cost.
- Does anyone else pay you for services? Some places such as hospices, treatment centers, home health providers and nursing facilities may provide a commission to advocates if a patient is placed in their facility. This means the advocate may not be completely objective when they recommend a facility to you. Knowing if this is a possibility is one way to protect your interests.
- Ask about their caseload. If they have a large number of cases, they may not be able to provide you with the individual attention your case may require.
- Finally, ask for references. Talk to other people and even organizations that have made use of the advocate you are considering. This is a good way to find out third party information on the advocate.
Advocates work with insurance companies, doctors and other health care providers to ensure that while you are dealing with cancer treatments you are not being double billed, over billed or billed for things that you never received. They work to ensure that transportation, appointments, and alternative treatment options are considered. They often work in a coordinator position to help ensure that your medical situation runs as smoothly as possible.
In many cases, they may also help you apply or get you in touch with community services that can help you with your treatment and recovery as well as help you maintain your lifestyle and financial stability. Professional advocates are there to ensure that you can concentrate on getting better. Remember, even if you hire a professional advocate, you still must be your own advocate!
Interview Until You Find “The One”
Remember also to listen to your own feelings. If you feel something may be off or you are uncomfortable then it may be wise to interview multiple advocates until you find someone who not only answers all your questions but also makes you feel comfortable.
Professional advocates can go a long way to making sure that you have the support you need. It is important that the person you are working with has your best interest in mind, has the skills you need and has the time to devote to your case. Here are a few additional areas to explore:
- Empathy – you want an advocate that is concerned and caring
- Confidentiality – remember advocates are going to be dealing with your financial information as well as your medical information. You want to make sure they will maintain your privacy.
- Knowledge of medical billing codes – One of the most important jobs of an advocate is to handle billing and insurance issues. It is important that they understand the codes that insurance companies, hospitals and doctor’s offices use when billing for procedures.
- Communication skills – Advocates will spend hours on the phone dealing with frustrating situations such as hospital billing and insurance companies. You want someone who is going to maintain their calm and handle things in a professional manner.
Professional advocates can go a long way to making sure that you have the support you need. It is important that the person you are working with has your best interest in mind, has the skills you need and has the time to devote to your case.