Open Enrollment – Confusion Spells Opportunity

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What a MESS Open Enrollment is this year!  No matter where your health insurance comes from – an employer, the Obamacare exchanges, or Medicare – it’s changed up, switched up, and more confusing than it has ever been.

YOU, as an independent health or patient advocate or care manager live (and fight) in this world of “let’s make money from patients even if we have to deny the services they need” world. You know what it’s like having to get a treatment, or claim, or hospitalization approved for someone who has inadequate insurance coverage. You know what it’s like when they ask you to help them get a bill reduced, or when the doctor they have been seeing for years suddenly won’t accept their insurance anymore. You know what it’s like when they realize that the hospital they were rushed to in an ambulance isn’t even in their insurance network.

You understand their confusion. You may even be confused yourself.

This year we’re going to experience the added confusion of the changes the new administration in Washington has made, including reduced subsidies, reduced Open Enrollment period, and the resulting upset when people find out their current coverage is no longer being offered (several of the largest insurers have dropped out of the ACA marketplaces). And that’s just Open Enrollment. What’s going to happen when the reality of 2018 sets in, and we all have to function under the new rules?

But – here’s the good news. We are business owners!  As such, we never hear negativity in the word “confusion.” Instead, when we hear the word “confusion” – we hear OPPORTUNITY!

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My Person! My People! Building Partnerships, Expanding Your Practice

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Are you a TV watcher?  I am. Big time. I love TV.  And because of that, more often than I care to admit, I draw inspiration from TV shows and characters. (As a side confession here, we’ve been binge-watching The West Wing, and have found that comparing it to today’s presidential politics is like marrying whiplash to an out-of-body experience. Right? But I digress….)

Today we’re going to draw inspiration from three very different, very diverse TV personalities or characters:  weatherman Al Roker from the Today Show, Elmo from Sesame Street, and Meredith Gray of Gray’s Anatomy.

Stay tuned… we’ll return to them in a moment after a word from…

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What Do You Believe? Why? A Marketing Proposition

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What do you do for a living? What sort of business do you run?

That’s a classic business question, and those who understand marketing and PR, and have been in business during the last decade, might respond to the questions with their “elevator pitch.”

If you’re not familiar with that term “elevator pitch”, you should be. An elevator pitch is a 10-20 second (yes, second!) overview of your business, so-named because you should be able to deliver it to a fellow passenger in the time it takes you to share an elevator ride to the top floor of a not-very-tall building.

I’m the founder and CEO of Jane’s Advocacy Services in Terre Haute. We provide health care support and navigation services for older patients who need someone to hold their hands. Unlike hospital patient advocates or social workers, we can be there 24/7, at home or in the hospital. We provide peace of mind to our clients and their concerned adult children.

Thing is – elevator pitches are just so 2008! They may still have their place but they have mostly been replaced…

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Wind, Rain, Destruction – and Metaphors

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APHA members received a note from us this week with some expectation management. That is… we’re prepared, and are hunkering down, for Hurricane Irma. Our offices, located in Central Florida, will likely lose power over the next few days as Irma makes her way through; meaning, of course, that office communication may come to a standstill until power is restored.

Honestly – it’s like knowing you’re about to get a tooth pulled. There’s pain before, you know there will be pain after, and you’re just waiting for it to be over with so you can get on with life, but with that additional dread of not knowing exactly what kind of pain you’ll be dealing with in the aftermath.

What??  Like getting a tooth pulled?  Yes – metaphorically – that’s exactly what waiting for a hurricane is like. Take it from me!

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Saying No and Refusing to Serve: How to Draw That Line

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If we have learned anything about ourselves in the past 10 days, it’s that there are some people in this world we will never be able to understand or condone. Between the skirmishes in Charlottesville, VA, and the killings in Barcelona and elsewhere; I am reminded that I will NEVER understand hate. I will NEVER condone racism, or neo-nazi-ism, or jihad, or white supremacy – or killing. Period.

As I watched it all unfold through the news, I asked myself, What would I do if one of those people whose attitudes and opinions I find so repugnant asked me to be their advocate?

The answer came easily. I would say no. 

I’m guessing that most of you would want to say NO, too – but would not know how to do so. So I am providing you here with justification and tactics to effectively, legally, and ethically draw a line between who we will, and who we won’t, provide advocacy services to.

Who we WILL work with – is fairly easy.  We’ll serve almost anyone who needs our skill set, in a geography we can serve, who is willing to sign our contract, who can afford to pay us to do that work.

Who we WON’T or DON’T WANT to work with – is more complex, in particular because of our Code of Ethics and Professional Standards, and possibly because of the law.

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