The duty of the health advocate is to promote, “activities related to ensuring access to care, navigating the system, mobilizing resources, addressing health inequities, influencing health policy and creating system change” (Hubinette, Dobson, Scott, Sherbino, 2017). Health advocates work to address and support health concerns and needs among communities, individuals, and populations. Advocating for the enhancement of optimal health and well-being for all is the main objective that individuals within this profession strive to meet.
Health advocates analyze and evaluate the strengths and needs of the United States health care delivery system. The scope of the work of the health advocate stems through a quad-function model which focuses on, “four functional components- financing, insurance, delivery, and payment” (Shi and Singh, 2019). Financing is considered, “necessary to obtain health insurance or to pay for health care services” (Shi and Singh, 2019). Health advocates may provide information about and referrals to health care providers and insurance companies that will best meet the health and socioeconomic needs of individuals and families. Health advocates may also work with federal and state agencies and organizations to identify funding and grants to help individuals and families defray the costs of health-care services.
The United States back in 2016, “spent 17.8 percent of its gross domestic product on health care, while other countries ranged from 9.6 percent (Australia) to 12.4 percent (Switzerland)” (Feldscher, 2018). Among all developed countries, the United States has the most expensive health care system. With this stated, insurance is critical as it protects individuals and families from, “financial catastrophe by providing expensive health care services when needed” (Shi and Singh, 2019). Health advocates conduct research and collect data and information on insurance options and plans that might be appropriate to the individual or family. Health advocates more specifically will review different insurance plans in terms of coinsurance, copays, deductibles, and premiums for health care services and do their best to be honest and upfront when presenting this information to individuals and families so they can make informed decisions.
Delivery involves, “the provision of health care services by various providers” (Shi and Singh, 2019). Health advocates inquire about providers in terms of their available resources and services when they attempt to connect individuals and families to quality health care. Health advocates connect individuals and families to providers such as, “physicians, dentists, optometrists, and therapists in private practices, hospitals, and diagnostic and imaging clinics, and suppliers of medical equipment (e.g., wheelchairs, walkers, ostomy supplies, oxygen)” (Shi and Singh, 2019). Health advocates also conduct quality assessments and quality assurance in order to assure the effectiveness and safety of the services and treatments rendered by these providers when connecting individuals and families to these resources. Longevity and optimal quality of life is essential for individuals and families. One point I do want to make here is that in addition to health care services being expensive and while we do have access to a lot of medical equipment and technology, “Life expectancy in the U.S. was the lowest of all 11 countries in the study, at 78.8 years; the range for other countries was 80.7 to 83.9 years” (Feldscher, 2018). Increased health care costs and the access to medical equipment and technology do not equate to longevity. Poor environmental conditions, unhealthy lifestyle factors, genetic problems, and the lack of quality of health care are four determinants that contribute to decreased life expectancy which is quite more common than many people might think. Health advocates favor health prevention and promotion, but they also support the need for treatment especially when a person’s life depends on it.
Payment involves, “reimbursement to providers for services delivered” (Shi and Singh, 2019). Referring back to the section about financing, health advocates coordinate with state and federal organizations to provide funding and grants to individuals and families in need to access quality health care in addition to connecting them to a health insurance plan whether public or private.
I think this justifies the need for health advocates now and in the future. What do you think?
Feldscher, K., (2018, March 13). What’s behind high U.S. health care costs. The Harvard
Hubinette, M., Dobson, S., Scott, I., Sherbino, J., (2017, February). Health Advocacy. National
Library Of Medicine. Med Teach. 39 (2): 128-135.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27866451/. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2017.1245853
Shi, L., & Singh, D.A. (2019). An Overview of U.S. Health Care Delivery. D. Bessette, V.
Richards, & S. Sheehan (Eds.), Delivering Health Care in America- A Systems
Approach- Seventh Edition (pp. 5-7). Burlington, Massachusetts: Jones & Bartlett