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August 14th, 2009
09:37 AM ET

How to Hire a Patient Advocate

From CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen

It's Empower Me! Friday! Today we are answering a question from Leonard, a viewer who is looking to hire a patient advocate to help him get his HMO to pay for charges he says they won't reimburse. Leonard is not alone; many other people are in the same situation. Here are some places you can go to find a patient advocate. That's the website for the Medical Billing Advocates of America. Among other things, they offer a state-by-state guide of patient advocates. Along with helping you navigate the health care maze, Healthcare Advocacy can help manage medical debt. That's the website for the Patient Advocate Foundation. They're a good resource if you need assistance with specific issues with an insurer, employer and/or creditor regarding insurance, job retention and/or debt crisis matters relative to their diagnosis of life threatening or debilitating diseases. The National Patient Advocate Foundation can help you understand what the laws are in your state and the different ways it's possible to get coverage if you're uninsured.

So how much does it cost to hire a health care advocate? Some non-profits offer the service for free, while some for-profit businesses charge up to $300 an hour.

Got a health care problem you'd like us to try and solve? Drop us an email at

Filed under: Elizabeth Cohen • Heidi Collins
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Rodney Morrison

    I believe its rather sad that people have so much hatred in them. There are people in this world that are self involved and do not care about nothing but themselves. I believe this was a mistake and he should not be torture for the rest of his life. He has serve his sentence. I love dogs too!

    The lady who mentioned she is not going to watch NFL again is a very hateful person and she needs prayers in her life. I am sure she has made mistakes in her life.

    Do Not Torture Michael Vick, He has served his sentence!

    August 14, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  2. symptoms

    Some very interesting points raised here, which has got me thinking!

    August 14, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  3. Ronald Haw

    Is it true that Medicare and/or Medicaid are not required to have competitive bidding for prescription drugs?

    If so, then would the estimated savings be greater or less than the $80 billion (time period unknown) savings offered by the drug companies as stated by President Obama on National TV?


    August 14, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  4. rich sottilaro

    I have buried 3 dogs over the last 25 years I am a huge animal lover was very disappointed in Michael Vick about what he did. So in hindsight I think he could be a very positive driving force to change this horrific habit!! If Mike chooses to do so! I sincerely hope so and I think he will because it cost him way more than his reputation but Millions of dollars.
    I think that's alot of money to throw away and he knows that full well. I would give him a second chance. I am also very sad that celebrities take such a huge gamble when you have everything handed to you. Most Americans would love to have what he had. Too bad!


    August 14, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  5. J Balfour

    It's a sad day when we have to hire someone to fight our insurance companies for what we have paid for. And why are Vick posting on the page? Guess his supporters are too dumb to find the right page.

    August 14, 2009 at 11:22 am |
  6. Mike Posey

    I was sentenced to 5 to life in 1968 for a drug fueled armed robbery spree...I was 22 at the time.....I managed to pick up an extra 18 years in prison, tagged onto the five year "bottom", therefore I was serving 23 to life, by the time I was 23 years old....I served 18 years in prison, mostly in Texas, and California, San Quenting, Folsom, Huntsville, places like that.....In 1986, after serving a year and a day in the Mexican Prison near Tiajuana, for "public endangerment", I got out in 1986, quit drugs, now over 24 years, and quit drinking 1-1-87...I have done neither behavior since then....I'm free now for way over 23 years. The second chance I got from the parole board of California, and the justice system in Mexico, allowed me to find my way to a lifetime of freedom....I'm retired now, 62 years-old, married happily to a great lady and have a marvelous life...I'm an AA member, help others alot, and do my share to promote my own, and other people's quality of life...In my day life meant little to me, mine or yours....It's different now..The years in prison gave me pause to reflect on my behavior, which was horrendous.....I made a pact with myself that IF I EVER got out, I'd NEVER go back...And so far that pact is firm.....Second chances work, for dog fighting, or armed robbery, and manslaughter, as in my cases....I was a VERY bad man, in my younger days...As I've lived longer, I see takes some of us the reality of being locked away to get our attention....Driving through those gates at San Quentin at age 22 certainly got mine.....Mike P. Lakeside California

    August 14, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  7. burnett

    Yes Michael Vick deserves a second chance. What puzzles me is why that would even be up for discussion,animals are killed every day but some how society has put certain animals on a "do not touch" list and some you can kill for consumption and for sport, IF YOU HAVE A LICENSE TO DO SO. Does anybody ever look at this before jumping on the bandwagon and destroying a HUMAN BEING.

    August 14, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  8. David

    Are there patient advocates who help patients make treatment decisions? Or maybe those are care coordinators? or patient representatives?

    August 14, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  9. Kitty Wilde

    I am a RN Patient Advocate and this is what I do.

    A Patient Advocate intercedes on behalf of the patient, working as a liaison with the family, physicians, physical therapy, and many other health care agencies and insurance companies, improving communication, accessing information, addressing concerns and assisting in resolving difficulties. A Patient Advocate works directly for you and has your best interest at heart providing support, encouragement and assistance. Patient Advocates can help coordinate the patient’s health care team for the optimal benefit of the patient. Our Patient Advocate can help create a patient care plan, so that all care givers are working together with the same information towards the same goal. A Patient Advocate can help empower the patient with organized medical records.

    Do you feel you have way too much on your plate related to your medical issues, or dealing with elderly parents? A Patient Advocate can help you sort through your medical issues. Some patients and family members just can not deal with a day at a time, but they can deal with maybe an hour at a time, or if that is too much, most of us can get through the next five minuets. Our Patient Advocate realizes that every moment counts in quality of life.

    August 14, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  10. David

    Also, won't medicare appoint an advocate for someone who has questions about what a hospital is doing relevant to medicare coverage? or is that part of an appeals process?

    August 15, 2009 at 2:10 am |
  11. David

    One more comment, not on this topic, but maybe you will let me post it.

    I can say it more complexly but to put it simply, Michael Vick truly regrets what he has done and I believe has heard the protests of pet owners and animal activists and they have made an impression on him.

    August 15, 2009 at 2:17 am |
  12. Dennis

    I wanted to send this comment to Ali during his cross-country tour discussing healthcare, but I could not find where to send an email to him.
    There has been discussion about vastly increasing the number of primary-care physicans. If we sart today, it would be a minimum of eight years, and more likely 16 years, before primary care physicans could enter the market place.

    I am suggesting that licensed Nurse Practioners should be able to develop and run clinics that provide much of the routine healthcare needs to Americans.
    Recently, my wife, Ann, and I were vacationing in Rockport, TX. Ann came down with a severe respiratory infection.
    We met a Nurse Practioner, who along with some of her colleagues, ran a Health Clinic. She opened the clinic, after-hours, examined Ann, found that she had two respiratory infections, and gave us the proper antibiotics on the spot. Ann's infections cleared up quickly.

    Why can't Nurse Practioners establish their own clinics and treat most people's minor illnesses at a tremendous financial savings?

    I would like to see consideration of and discussion about Nurse Practioners delivering an important part of American's healthcare needs

    August 15, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  13. karen

    Every patient with a serious illness should have a patient advocate. My 13 year old son began treatment for leukemia than took 6 years to complete successfully. I had worked as a project manager in the past and took on his recovery as a project manager viewing the doctors, nurses, insurance company and others as part of the project team.
    My son was treated in one of the world's premier hospitals for children. However, even the best hospitals are dangerous places and especially for the sick. An ill person needs someone with them 24/7 during their treatment. I could site many times when things could have gone terribly wrong had I not been there to ask questions and insure that things were implemented timely and as planned. I will never allow a loved one to be hospitalized or go though treatment for a major illness without having a patient advocate to manage their care.

    August 15, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  14. karen

    Thank you for answering my concern about needed facts concerning health care. I have been very against health care reform and you clarity on some FACTS has softened my view. (Not sold completely)
    I noticed that you had not posted my comment and don't expect this one to be posted because it is not the appropriate place but I did want you to know that I did notice that my concern was answered.

    August 15, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  15. Sandy

    I sincerely beieve healthcare reform is a necessity-but out of the 47-50 million once again how many are illegal? Our country has been raped enough-close the boarders, start healing AMERICA....this issue must be addressed before I even consider trusting the government....I would be more pro if I knew our President wasn't going to grant Amnisty and start a spending program for American made products.

    August 17, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  16. Phyllis

    There are millions of retied military families on government run plans.
    we have medicare and tricare for life. Which is a program we as 20 years service lost and the a group lobby and got it back for us. There is nothing wrong with it. Plus medicaid has been around a long time.


    August 19, 2009 at 8:53 am |