September 16, 2021
Trying to figure out how to apply for medical insurance may feel like a daunting task to some patients or their families. A team of Certified Patient Financial Advocates are available to walk them through the process and find a plan that will work best for them.
St. Lawrence Health (SLH) implemented the Patient Financial Advocacy team in mid-March of this year, when the need for health coverage and education on how to acquire was identified among the system’s patients. Patient Financial Advocate Brynn Coplen noted SLH has a great desire to assist its patients with the process, and to ensure the communities it serves are healthy.
The Advocates work with patients to receive health insurance through the New York State of Health Marketplace (https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/). Patients who come to them are educated on the different plans they qualify for through the Marketplace, and the Advocates further explain SLH’s financial assistance process and what it does for the out of pocket costs they may have.
“If we identify any other financial needs of the patient during the review process, we use the resources we have collected to help point the patient in the right direction so they can receive the assistance they need,” Ms. Coplen said. “We work diligently to approach each patient in a holistic manner when it comes to their financial struggles so they may focus on the most important thing, their health.”
It is not uncommon for someone to be unaware of financial assistance opportunities they may be entitled to, and this is where the Advocates are very helpful. They have the ability to inform the patient on programs and coverages available through New York State or on a local scale.
If you are thinking about contacting a Patient Financial Advocate, there is no need to be concerned about what information you may need to have on hand, or if filling out any paperwork will be difficult.
“The paperwork is actually very simple; it requires information such as the patient’s date of birth and address, and proof of ID and income,” Ms. Coplen said, noting the Advocates are available to help the patient fill out any forms.
Once the application is filled out, it may take anywhere from 24-hours to a few weeks for the medical insurance to become active, depending on which program is being applied for.
If patients come to an Advocate with a bill for services that were already received, the Advocate will assist them in filling out a Marketplace application to see if they qualify for Medicaid. If they do, coverage will be active in approximately 24-hours, and Medicaid will cover previous services for up to three months.
“If patients do not qualify for Medicaid or cannot afford an insurance plan, our St. Lawrence Health Financial Assistance Program or Billing Department will work to assist them with their medical expenses,” Ms. Copen said.