Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding the benefits of Independent Patient Advocacy can save lives.
What can an Independent Patient Advocate do that a patient or loved one can’t do on their own?
Patients and loved ones dealing with a hospitalization or struggling with a medical issue are at a disadvantage when it comes to advocating for themselves. This is especially true during periods of uncertainty like when it’s time to be discharged or when it’s unclear whether a test or procedure will be approved. Sometimes it’s hard getting answers to the most basic questions. Because Independent Patient Advocates come from varied professions like nursing, medicine, insurance, and elder care they know their way around health care like lawyers know their way around the courtroom. The right Independent Patient Advocate can speak up for patients when friends and family just aren’t enough.
The hospital already has a Patient Advocate. Why do I need another one?
Everyone employed by a health care company is limited to what they can accomplish for patients and families. Hospital employed patient advocates, navigators, social workers, and discharge planners are no different. They became health care professionals because they are passionate about helping people. But they have heavy caseloads and many work long hours with limited resources. Independent Patient Advocates work one on one with patients and loved ones to explore options, improve communication, and coordinate with overworked hospital staff. In fact, many Independent Patient Advocates used to work for hospitals and health care companies before they decided to work directly for patients.
Where do Independent Patient Advocates come from and how are they trained?
The majority of Independent Patient Advocates have experienced frustration with the health care system and decided to do something about it. They either witnessed systemic failures while working on the inside or had a personal experience that prompted them to help others. You can read every advocate’s personal story in the GNA national directory. As the profession matures, so will the training. Independent Patient Advocates have undertaken coursework, mentoring, and continuing education. An increasing number of advocates have been tested and certified by the Patient Advocate Certification Board. Independent Patient Advocates collaborate with each other all the time, so even if a particular advocate can’t help, they can probably direct you to someone who can.
Are Independent Patient Advocate services covered by health insurance?
No, they aren’t. And they shouldn’t be. It would be a conflict of interest for a patient advocate to be independent while employed by a health insurance company. This is true because Independent Patient Advocates are often called upon to fight, challenge, and appeal insurance company decisions. Because health insurance cannot effectively or ethically provide independent advocacy for patients, GNA is constantly exploring funding opportunities to serve patients and loved one in need.
Will my employer pay for an Independent Patient Advocate?
More and more employers are including Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) as an employee benefit. These programs may pay for Independent Patient Advocacy in the event of a medical emergency. These programs usually also cover the spouses of employees You should check your employee handbook or inquire with your company’s benefits team to see if there in an Employee Assistance Program in place.
How can I contribute to the Greater National Advocates mission?
GNA is in business to educate the public and promote the lifesaving benefits of Independent Patient Advocacy. We collaborate with individuals and organizations who share our vision and we welcome everyone’s help as we spread the word about our mission. Please share our site and our directory with all your friends, associates, and connections. If you are kind-hearted and able to make a tax deductible contribution to help us further our goals, we graciously welcome your help.