Healthcare Problem or Medical Crisis?

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Selecting the right specialty will improve your search results…

Medical Guidance Advocates

Front Line Advocates Who Step In and Take Charge During a Medical Crisis

These knowledgeable advocates provide support with…

  • Improving communications between the medical team, patient, and family
  • Managing patient care and ensuring hospital responsiveness
  • Understanding a new or complicated diagnosis and obtaining second opinions
  • Overseeing hospitalizations, discharges, and the selection of long-term care
Search for MEDICAL GUIDANCE Advocates

Special Care & Aging Advocates

Compassionate Advocates Who Assist The Elderly and Patients With Special Needs

These knowledgeable advocates provide support with...

  • Evaluating daily needs, developing and implementing care plans, addressing safety concerns
  • Exploring living arrangements and helping select appropriate care teams
  • Identifying resources, organizing household affairs, and providing bedside support
  • Facilitating participation in physical, social, cultural, and educational activities
Search for SPECIAL CARE & AGING Advocates

Insurance & Billing Advocates

Resourceful Advocates Who Tackle Medical Charges and Fight for Insurance Benefits

These knowledgeable advocates provide support with…

  • Challenging surprise bills, eliminating excessive charges, and resolving out-of-network disputes
  • Appealing denials of insurance benefits and getting treatments approved
  • Comparing insurance options and choosing the right coverage at the right time
  • Qualifying for clinical trials, financial assistance programs, and access to medication
Search for INSURANCE & BILLING Advocates

Wellness & Lifestyle Advocates

Quality of Life Advocates Dedicated to Keeping Patients Healthy and Out of the Hospital

These knowledgeable advocates provide support with…

  • Fostering preventive and healthy lifestyle choices through education and coaching
  • Rebuilding strength and restoring self-esteem after a hospitalization, medical procedure, or course of therapy
  • Exploring non-traditional, holistic, alternative, and integrative approaches to health and wellness
  • Encouraging whole person care, promoting self-advocacy, amplifying patient voices
Search for WELLNESS & LIFESTYLE Advocates

Survivor Support Advocates

Peer Mentor Advocates Who Share Their Experience and Knowledge to Guide Others

These knowledgeable advocates provide support with…

  • Listening to patients and sharing first-hand experiences about conditions, treatments & procedures
  • Sharing solutions and remedies based on real-life experiences and knowledge
  • Connecting patients and families with support groups and counseling services
  • Setting realistic expectations for patients and their families in the wake of a new diagnosis
Search for SURVIVOR SUPPORT Advocates
Search all Types of Patient Advocates

Get Help From Anywhere With TeleAdvocacy

Most healthcare advocates in the GNA directory can assist patients from anywhere in the country via telephone or video-conferencing tools like Facetime, Zoom and Skype.

If you live in an underserved area or can't find a local patient advocate that meets your specific needs, we encourage you to search nationwide for an advocate that offers virtual support. It’s easy, simply search without entering a location, and look for the "TeleAdvocacy Available" checkmark on the resulting listings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why isn’t it a good idea to advocate for yourself during a health crisis or emergency?

Patients and their loved ones are always at a disadvantage when it comes to making decisions about medical care. A complicated diagnosis, unexpected decline in health, or traumatic injury can make it nearly impossible for patients and families to advocate for themselves. There are barriers and obstacles around every corner. Sometimes it’s hard getting answers to the most basic questions.

Advocating for yourself as a patient is often problematic for several reasons. First, our healthcare system is complex and intimidating. It can be extremely challenging for patients and their loved ones to make informed decisions, especially during periods of uncertainty like when it’s time to be discharged or when it’s unclear whether a test or procedure will be approved.

Furthermore, patients don’t always have access to everything they need in order to make informed decisions, such as their complete medical records, information about treatment options, and the availability of clinical trials.

These factors can make it extremely difficult for patients and their families to effectively advocate for themselves. The right Independent Patient Advocate, however, can step in, take charge, and help patients and loved ones speak up when friends and family just aren’t enough.

Everyone employed by a health care company is limited to what they can accomplish for patients and families. Hospital-employed patient advocates, navigators, social workers, and discharge planners are no different. They have heavy caseloads and work long hours with limited resources. Independent Patient Advocates, however, work one on one with patients and loved ones to explore options, improve communication, and coordinate with overworked hospital staff. In fact, many Independent Patient Advocates used to work for hospitals and healthcare companies before they decided to work directly for patients.

Hospital-employed patient advocates are also beholden to hospital policies and procedures. Because they are accountable to hospital administration, they can be restricted in their ability to advocate beyond rigid corporate guidelines. Independent Patient Advocates, on the other hand, can be more objective because they are not associated with a specific healthcare provider and are not financially dependent on any one organization. They can often provide a wider range of services and have more freedom to advocate for patients and their loved ones.

The education and training of Independent Patient Advocates can vary widely. Some Independent Patient Advocates have backgrounds in healthcare, such as nursing, social work, aging life care, or healthcare administration. Others have experience in insurance, rare disease, long term care, pharmacy, or as caregivers for loved ones. A growing number of Independent Patient Advocates are former patients and survivors who have mentored others who are experiencing injuries and illnesses similar to theirs.

The Patient Advocate Certification Board (PACB) is the credentialing body for the profession. Independent Patient Advocates who have been certified by the PACB proudly display the BCPA credentials on their profile page. The Board works to manage and maintain a universally recognized certification for patient/health advocates; establish and maintain relevant knowledge domains, skills, ethical standards and best practices for advocates; collaborate with healthcare consumers to achieve patient and family centered care; establish professional development for certified advocates; and promote and professionalize patient advocacy.

Board Certified Patient Advocates are required to receive ongoing training and continuing education and most Independent Patient and Health Care Advocates routinely attend workshops, conferences, and other professional development opportunities to stay up to date with healthcare and patient advocacy.

Independent Patient Advocates are not covered by health insurance for a couple notable reasons. First, health insurance companies are unwilling to pay Independent Patient Advocates to fight against their own policies and decisions. It is simply not in the best interests of health insurance companies to pay for Independent Patient Advocates.

In addition, many health insurance companies are reluctant to include Independent Patient Advocacy as a medically necessary covered service. Some health insurance plans do provide limited coverage for non-medical services, such as case management or care coordination, and some health insurance plans may offer coverage and make exceptions for Independent Patient Advocates in specific situations, such as for patients with complex medical conditions.

Employee benefit plans and employee assistance programs may cover Independent Patient Advocacy, but coverage varies depending on the specific plan and the insurance provider. Some employee benefit plans may offer coverage for Independent Patient Advocacy services as part of their case management or care coordination services. However, coverage depends on the specific terms of the employee benefit plan.

If you are considering using the services of an Independent Patient Advocate and would like to see if your employee benefit plan covers these services, it's a good idea to check with your insurance provider or HR department for more information. They can provide you with a summary of your coverage and any specific limitations or restrictions that may apply.

Independent Patient Advocates are not covered by health insurance. They are hired directly by patients and their loved ones to provide individualized guidance and support that the traditional healthcare system is not equipped to handle.

The private-pay arrangement ensures that advocates remain independent and free from the influence of insurance companies and hospital facilities, whose interests are often not aligned with the patient's. There are advocates who offer free consultations and pro bono services, but most are unable to sustain their businesses without charging fees.

Unfortunately, not every patient can afford to pay for an Independent Patient Advocate. This is why we established the GNA Patient Access Fund. It’s sole purpose is to help pay for Independent Patient Advocacy services for patients and families who meet certain needs-based criteria. To learn more about the GNA Patient Access Fund, and find out if you qualify for assistance CLICK HERE.

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