Advocating for our Needs
A very close friend told me the other day that you have to advocate for yourself and your family when it comes to the health care system. Truer words have never been spoken. Many times I have had to advocate for my children and myself. The health care system in many countries is too big. Too complicated. Too expensive. Too judgmental.
How to advocate for yourself?
So how do we advocate for ourselves in such a gigantic system with so many rules? I think we start slow. We take on one battle at a time. As usual many things in life are tough to do but not insurmountable. Some things just take time, like for instance, when the insurance company rejects our claim for something we need for our diabetes. We are disappointed when it’s rejected but then we rally and decide if this is something we need to fight for. If it is, then we begin the process. I have learned that a rejection is not always the final word. There may be ways we can appeal the decision. Yes, it will likely require more phone calls. And more paperwork. And a whole lot more patience. Many times over, it can be worth it.
How can others advocate for you?
Sometimes, we don’t have to advocate alone either. There are many professionals out there who don’t like the system any more than we do. Very often they are the first ones to try and advocate on our behalf whether it’s to another health care professional or insurance company or drug company. Sometimes it’s employers that will advocate for their employees to the insurance companies. I have also seen some employers pay more so their people get what they need.
I recently wrote about losing a valuable member of my health care team, my family doctor or as he is referred to in the USA, my primary. As I searched for my new doc, I kept asking myself why I would need one. I have an incredible endocrinologist who helps me look after my diabetes. I also have a cardiologist whose role is preventative cardiac care related to diabetes. Otherwise, I’m very healthy. Then I realized the important role my family doc played. He was my advocate; my advocate when health care decisions put on me by other diabetes specialists didn’t feel right to me, when I couldn’t advocate for myself. In the past I came up against some diabetic specialists whose philosophy was “Here’s your plan.” When I said “No” to it, it was my family doc who advocated for all the “plans” to slow down, to be reassessed, and ultimately to leave those ‘pushier’ health care providers. That’s one big reason why I want, maybe need, a family doc. The family doc is the quarterback of my team and my advocate in the big system (Btw, I found a new one, she’s amazing!).
As if I didn’t already know this, I have learned nothing seems to come easily in a big health care system. Even in the best systems, there are disappointments, and sometimes out and out wrongs that need to be corrected. Sometimes we can’t change those wrongs. Sometimes we can. Many times, we advocate alone because we have to, because we need to in order to make living with diabetes tolerable. Other times, we have professionals who can slip into that role to help us secure the things we need.
One thing is for sure, in the big health care system, we will always have to try and advocate for what we need to be healthy living with diabetes.
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