Published by Joanne McGowan on October 1st, 2018

We think a lot about advocacy at Trustmark Health Benefits, and what it means to be an advocate for members. We understand that navigating the system is often difficult under ideal circumstance, and through advocacy we work to make it easier for members. For instance, our Trustmark Health Benefits Connect service allows members to bring complex problems to our representatives, who will help solve those problems. I see advocacy as a way to say to the member, especially those having a difficult health situation, “we are here to help with that heavy lifting.” We can help members navigate and find the best course of care. We can give them alternative resources to get a second opinion, to find case managers and social workers, and other resources to help members. To me, that is one half of advocacy.

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The Human Touch

The other half of advocacy is the simple notion of providing human warmth and empathy to those who need it. I remember one instance in particular, a call from one of our members with a question about a claim. She was not overly emotional, but she said to our representative, "I have a question about a claim for sleep apnea supplies, and I'm surprised that I still have a co-pay." And our advocacy representative said, "Tell me why."
 
The member told her, "My husband had a transplant operation in September and when he came home, he had problems with an infection, so he was back in the hospital in October, and I would have thought that I would have met all of my out of pocket deductible costs."
 
That advocate worked with the woman to figure out why this had happened. She said, "I understand, and I agree with you. I'm going to call the hospital for you. We don't have those claims yet, so I'm going to talk to them about this issue and straighten it out. You don't need to do anything else about it; I'll take care of it."
 
Our advocate understood and appreciated just how hard the last couple of months had been for this family. She told her, "I'm going to reach out for you. I'm going to get the information. I'm going to call you back."
 

Expertise and Empathy

Sometimes, people in the healthcare system feel like they are pinballs that just go from place to place. Advocacy is a way we can help those people. Our advocates are able to look at our members’ situations and find those places where the member might not even realize we can support them, because they are not used to navigating the health care system like we are.
 
If you do not feel well, if you are worried about something else, and someone takes some of that weight off your shoulders and says, "I can work the system and I can help you. I can take you out of the middle of all those problems," that is what advocacy is to me, and to our people at Trustmark Health Benefits.