Health insurance had become so complicated that patients are now hiring professionals to help them deal with their doctors and insurance companies. Newsweek, CBS, NBC, and other major newspapers have all reported on the increasing popularity of health care advocacy firms.
In May of 2007, Newsweek described the experiences of Therese Potoczny, an insurance executive Illinois. Ms. Potozcny had so much difficulty in obtaining medical care for her family that she paid a professional patient advocate for help. The patient advocate helped arrange medical consultations and coordinate insurance benefits. An increasing number of professional medical advocates are now marketing their services. As Newsweek pointed out, they can be helpful but can also be expensive. Costs may run into the thousands. Medical advocates are not regulated by state or Federal laws. Quality may vary and there is no guarantee that the services they provide will be helpful. Newsweek recommends that patients consider the various advocates carefully and check out the expertise of any group before paying for services.
Several of the companies currently offering patient advocate services include a Baltimore, Maryland based company called PinnacleCare (pinnaclecare.com), the Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania based company Health Advocate (healthadvocate.com) and HealthCare Advocates, Inc. (healthcareadvocates.com), of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Medical advocates offer similar services. Typically these include:
Medical advocate services are not usually covered by insurance. They may charge by the hour, may charge a monthly membership fee, or may charge flat fees for individual services. Prices vary widely.
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