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Saturday, August 9, 2008

After three surgeries: Health advocates

After three surgeries, 63-year-old Judy Sherer of Norcross, Georgia still had chronic pain in her left shoulder. She'd lost faith in her doctors, and in despair, tried a new health benefit offered by her employer.

The service, Health Advocate, is a call-in center that helps customers find the right doctor, haggle over insurance coverage and manage other medical systems headaches.

An advocate helped Judy find a new surgeon, one who found metal shavings left in her shoulder in error by a previous doctor. The advocate also negotiated the charge for her physical therapy down to $40 per visit from the $200 charge she was told of initially.

"It saved me a ton of money," she said. “I’m very, very pleased.”

The largest customers of health advocacy services are companies, not individuals. "The employers are interested because it means their employees are not on the phone taking care of doctor's visits during work hours, says Carol Fischer, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania-based health Advocate.

Advice to frustrated consumers: Consider using a health advocate.

Read another patient advocate story.

Thanks to Mike Stobbe for the source article in the July 27 issue of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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