Why Companies Need to Consider Hiring a Health Care AdvocateIf you own a business and offer health care to your employees, you may also want to consider also offering a health care advocate. Such an expert, also known as a patient advocate, could be a good employee benefit at your workplace.
According to Employee Benefit News, “In recent years, employers have embraced health care advocacy programs as a way to guide patients toward the most effective and cost-efficient health path.” The newsletter says that according to a 2011 survey by the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity, “46% of companies have health care advocates available for employees,” with 11% planning to add health care advocates as part of the benefits they offer.
The U.S. health care system is complicated enough – health care advocate Barbara Abruzzo of Livingwell Care Navigation calls it a “frustrating” system, one that “puts patients and their families at risk physically, emotionally and financially.” And now, with the upcoming implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, things are about to get more complicated – and confusing. This is another reason some companies are considering hiring patient advocates.
Some of the things a health care advocate can do in the workplace include:
- Helping the employee deal with health issues, whether it be a new diagnosis, or a chronic illness, giving them a plan of action for the right treatment options.
- Assisting the employee if he or she has multiple health issues at the same time, and helping to get the various physicians on the same page.
- Finding physicians, specialists and hospitals for treatment.
- Giving advice on wellness and ways to stay healthy.
- Helping the employee evaluate and choose options for treating their issues.
- Providing assistance to caregivers.
- Advising ways to stay safe in the hospital and not get an infection.
- Helping employees manage chronic disorders.
- Assisting with navigating the medical billing system.
- Planning for end-of-life care.
Having a health care advocate as a benefit in the workplace can potentially pay off in the long run, as employees may stay healthier and be able to manage their lives better.
In addition, these days, many American workers are not just dealing with their own health issues. They have to handle their parents through the end of their lives. That can also be a reason to use a health care advocate. As Employee Benefit News puts it, the health care advocate “can be the glue for a disconnected health system,” noting that “many baby boomers are turning to advocates to help them with caring for aging parents, as advocates can stand in when an employee can’t leave work to accompany a loved one on a doctor’s appointment.”
And BizJournals.com says that “health advocates can help with the many smaller but overwhelming elements of a serious accident or illness,” things like “finding someone to build a wheelchair ramp, negotiating insurance coverage for a confusing bill, or making the dozens of calls often required to navigate medical bureaucracy.”
The more the health care advocate can do for your employees on such issues and more, the less they may have to do, which means less time missed due to health concerns. That could positively affect your bottom line.
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