Some of you know me by reputation – 12+ years of patient empowerment work including speaking, blogging, radio, newspaper, and books… my passion for supporting patients in their quest to get the best they can from a dysfunctional healthcare system, based on my own run-in with the healthcare system.
Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a sad or horrid story about someone’s terrible journey through the system. Loved ones who have died at the hands of the dysfunction, or a lifetime’s worth of savings wiped out – because insurance wasn’t chosen carefully (if at all.) Disfigurement, debilitation, and more. I’ve shed tears, gotten angry, intervened – and provided whatever advice might come in time to salvage any possible positive outcomes from what was usually, already a bad situation.
However, I figured out years ago that those emotions really didn’t improve anyone’s journey, nor their health or bank accounts. Nor, sadly, did much of my advice-giving, even when it was asked. The reason is simple: at the point you or a loved one is looking bad or insufficient care in the eye, or when you’ve already had expensive treatment with lousy health insurance, then it’s often too late to help. When you are sick, or fearful, or uncertain, or doubtful, or exhausted, or feeling guilty, even the best advice in the world won’t help you.
It’s almost impossible to help yourself. It’s like being thrown in jail without understanding why you were, or what on earth to do next! Who did you call? How do you make bail? Do you have to show up in court?
In that case, we all know who to call – we call a lawyer. That lawyer is the NEUTRAL person who advocates for those tossed into jail who need help getting out, and then on their journeys through the criminal legal system, whether or not they are guilty.
Being diagnosed with something difficult and scary, or getting hurt in an accident that requires immediate and long term care, or living on one side of the country while your elderly parent lives hundreds or thousands of miles away – well – there are parallels with being thrown in jail, aren’t there? What on earth are you supposed to do next? Who do you call? How do you get your arms around the situation and make decent decisions? What is expected of you?
Only this time, instead of calling a lawyer – it’s time to call a private, independent patient advocate; someone who will hold your hand during your journey through the healthcare system. An advocate with an independent voice – one who isn’t trying to protect an errant provider, or line the pockets of a pharmaceutical company, or prevent you from getting the care you need at a cost you can afford.
It’s that independent voice that is crucial to helping you or a loved one get what you need, and that’s what this blog will explore. We’ll tell tales that have been shared with us, and the ways an independent patient advocate can help you. We’ll look at the aspects of the healthcare system that are standing between you and what you want and need. And we’ll provide solutions in the form of advice and handholding.