Personal Patient Advocates
Finding, Using and Becoming One
Help for In-Patients
Click on “Find Your State
Most hospitals have staff that serve as patient
representatives, or advocates. If you know that you will be admitted to a
hospital, you might call beforehand and ask for information about their
patient advocate services. Whether before or after admission, however,
patients should feel free to ask about and meet the hospital’s patient
rep. Sometimes trained ombudsmen (often volunteers) are assigned to
hospitals. For the most part, though, ombudsmen are assigned to nursing
homes and other long-term care facilities. The ombudsman’s role is to
visit with patients and, when appropriate, to speak with the facility’s
staff on behalf of those patients. Many states have an ombudsman program.
To find out if your state has one, and to get more information if they do,
click on the following links.
New York State Ombudsman
Program · 800-342-9871
518-474-7329 (If calling from outside
Help With Insurance
Public and private organizations provide help with
State Health Insurance
Assistance Programs (SHIP)
SHIP is a federal program
available to Medicare beneficiaries and their families. Trained counselors
provide free assistance regarding Medicare, Medicaid and Medigap
policies. Offerings include help in understanding health plan options and
help with claims and billing problems. To find the SHIP in your area, use
the contact information, below, or call your local or state Area Agency
for the Aging.
Insurance (SHIP) Offices
800-633-4227 (gen. info)
Scroll down to click on
“List of State Health Insurance Offices” for web links and phone numbers.
The Patient Advocate
Click on “Personal Help” for information regarding
their free services, which include phone or online consultations with a
professional case manager.
Help With Claims and
Assistance with claims and billing problems are
also available for those individuals who are not Medicare beneficiaries.
General speaking, this service is provided by professionals for a fee.
While we cannot speak to the quality of the services available from the
company listed below, we offer this link here because they offer, for
sale, a comprehensive and understandable guide to assist individuals who
prefer to resolve such problems themselves.
Medical Billing Advocates of America ·
Click on “Help Yourself” for information about their
self-help guide, Medical Bill Workbook.
This links to an article entitled, “The Role of the
Patient Advocate.” The article not only explains the role of the advocate,
but also offers valuable suggestions on how to effectively use their help.
the information included here is especially important when family and
friends are the advocates.
Becoming a Volunteer Advocate
Individuals interested in volunteering as ombudsman
or SHIP counselors can find information from the appropriate links above
or by contacting their local or state Area Agency on the Aging.
Becoming a Professional Advocate
Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
This program offers a Masters Degree in Health
Cleveland State University, Ohio
This is an online, distance-learning certificate
program, developed in collaboration with the Society for Healthcare
Consumer Advocacy, a member organization of the American Hospital