Going on Offense: Who Deserves an Advocate’s Help?

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Going on Offense: Who Deserves an Advocate’s Help?

“Only rich people can afford an advocate.” Or: “Doesn’t providing private patient advocacy services only to those who can afford them, just create one more division between the “haves” and the “have nots?” Or: “Not everyone can afford an independent patient advocate. It’s unfair some people can’t be helped.” Anyone who has worked in advocacy or care management has heard one or more of these statements, or at least one from the same playbook. It’s an objection meant to put us on the defensive, as if, since private advocacy can’t be provided to everyone, then we shouldn’t provide it to anyone. Don’t let anyone put YOU on the defensive this way!  It’s a foolish argument. Here’s why: We’ll begin with a simple statement:  anyone who needs an advocate or care manager, anyone who is challenged by the healthcare system (whether or not the patient even realizes he or she isn’t getting what is needed), anyone who could enjoy a better outcome than will happen with no assistance from an advocate…. deserves the support of an advocate. Few people would disagree with that statement. The foolish question is whether everyone deserves the help of private, independent advocates. It’s foolish because the answer is obvious – of course everyone also DESERVES the help of a private advocate! The question is whether they can afford to PAY someone to help. And, sadly, not everyone can afford such a service. That’s true!  Not everyone who needs an independent advocate can afford to pay for an independent advocate. But is that unusual?  Not at all!  There have always been people who could, or could not, afford what they need and want. Not everyone who needs a home can afford a home. Not everyone who wants a college degree can afford a college degree. Not everyone who needs a lawyer can afford a lawyer. Etc Etc Etc NO ONE CLAIMS – ever – that since not everyone can afford a home, or a college degree, or a lawyer – therefore no one should have them!  It’s just understood that not everyone can. It may not be…


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