|By Michael Ollove, Stateline.org|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The last is a particularly valuable trait because Smith frequently finds herself on the opposite end of the telephone with someone at the edge of desperation, if not a good deal beyond it. It might be a mother distraught after her teenage son has been rushed to an emergency room following a suicide attempt and her insurance carrier balks at paying for his hospital admission. It might be an elderly man enraged over a
Smith, director of consumer relations at the
And Smith managed to calm the mother of the child with cerebral palsy. The insurance representative who claimed the carrier didn't pay for "durable medical equipment" didn't know what he was talking about, Smith reassured the woman. "That denial," Smith said, "had absolutely no foundation whatsoever."
Smith is the only employee at the
One of the typical functions of these programs is helping consumers navigate the marketplace of health insurance, whose unfamiliar language, fine print and riders confuse even sophisticated buyers. The programs help buyers through the arcana to find the insurance plans that best fit their needs and those of their families.
But it is the role of advocate that most endears consumer assistance programs to their clients, many of whom have waged lonely and unsuccessful fights over medical bills before discovering a knowledgeable and persistent ally.
"It's a very onerous process to appeal an insurance company denial," says