Monday, November 4, 2013
The term Patient Advocate is thrown around very loosely and used very liberally by those businesses who perform certain tasks for patients and people who need help navigating the medical, drug, and welfare system.A patient advocate is supposed to be someone who "Advocates" for a patient or works on their behalf usually through a non-profit organization, hospital or welfare office.There is nothing wrong with hiring an advocate to represent you or to advise you on how to best utilize the services that are available that in many cases you may not be aware of. It's no different from hiring a lawyer to advocate on your behalf in front of a judge or jury.The problem comes in when the so-called advocate manipulates the patient into believing they have motives other than profit and coerce the patient to "sign up" or otherwise spend money on a service that may be free.Such is the case when it comes to free drugs and Patient Assistance Programs. There are companies who call themselves advocates who will help you navigate the difficult system of getting your medications for free from patient assistance programs made available by the drug companies.If you know how to use these patient assistance programs and you fall within certain income guidelines and you don't have prescription insurance, you can get your prescription drugs for free through these programs.There are some companies that calls themselves patient advocates, and what they do is charge you an arm and a leg to fill out some paperwork for you. They charge a one time enrollment fee of $50.00 and then $20.00 per month for each medication they help you get through those free patient assistance programs.Now you can look at it as still being a bargain if you would otherwise pay $130.00 or more for a particular drug and now you get it for only $20.00 a month, but if you knew where to get the applications and how to fill them out all you'd have to do is submit the application properly, you'd never have to pay again.It's completely up to you, but I'd rather pay a few bucks for the application and some instructions and do it myself and never pay again than pay someone over and over every month to do something that I can do myself.But, it's your call, and it should be your call. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with paying a service like the one I mentioned above to do it for you, but you should also know about the other ways of doing it.A do-it-yourself program exists that provides you with video trainings that show you exactly how to file the application and fill them out and explain all the little nuances of how the programs work.They charge just $4.96 for each application which will get you your medication for free for an entire year and they will keep you on the right track and show you exactly how to do every step. So you simply print a separate application for each medication you want to receive. It's just that easy.Now compare that to $20.00 a month for each medication.If you have 2 meds that adds up to $480.00 for the year compared to less than $10.00 with the do-it-yourself program. Now that's what I call a Patient Advocate.