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Should Insurance Provide Reimbursement to Independent Advocates?
I had interesting conversations with someday-advocates last week. I love those conversations; I always learn something from them which I can then bring back to the Alliance and the information we share with members. And then again, sometimes the questions I hear are the same ones that have cropped up over and over again, including today’s question: Is there insurance reimbursement for the work of an independent advocate? This time, I’m going to answer that question with a few questions of my own. When we call an advocate independent, what do we mean? Independent of what? The answer is usually, “Well – independent of the healthcare system!” OK. Next question. What parts of the healthcare system are they independent of? Well… the whole system! The system is so dysfunctional that people aren’t getting what they need! As an independent advocate, I will be able to get them what they need! OK. Next question. Why aren’t they getting what they need? Because they can’t talk to their doctors anymore! There isn’t enough time. Doctors are in such a hurry, and patients want their hands held like they used to. They want their doctors to listen to them. They want someone who will help them get what they really need and want. They want explanations and understanding. That’s what I bring as their advocate! OK. Next question. Why don’t their doctors listen to them? Why aren’t they getting the time they used to get? Why do they need you? This is the point where the light bulb goes off in their heads, and they realize what they’ve just said…. One of THE BIGGEST HURDLES to patients getting what they want and need is the providers’ reimbursement system. Providers are NEVER reimbursed for the TIME they spend with patients. They are reimbursed per-patient, and the more patients they see in one day, the more money they can make. Insurers have put such a squeeze on providers that they are spending less and less time with each patient so they can see more and more patients in one day. (To be fair, so often those…