Are you frustrated trying to figure out how much your insurance will cover and how much you’ll have to pay out of pocket for an operation you need to have? Are you worried that your widowed father-in-law who lives halfway across the country may be getting an incomplete picture of his treatment options?  Were you caught off guard by a big bill for services that aren’t covered by your insurance? Are you having trouble getting in to see a qualified specialist in a reasonable amount of time?  Was your application for disability payments through the federal Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) denied?   Do you wish you knew how to help your mother, who lives on the east coast and who wants to stay in her house but needs a great deal of help?

If you answered yes to any of the above – or have any other similar issues with health care and/or with paying for health care – you might want to look into the phone-and web-based services offered by Health Proponent (see, one part of an organization called Health Advocate.   Health Advocate sells its services to employers who, in turn, make them available to their employees for free; Health Proponent provides some of the same services at a low cost to people who don’t have access to Health Advocate.  Both can help solve problems like those described above.

I do not have any financial relationship with Health Advocate/Health Proponent.  I have, however, successfully used their services – available to me at no cost through a former employer – for my own family.   

For example, I had made three failed attempts over several years to get medical records from a particular doctor.  The Health Advocate representative emailed me a form, which I filled out and faxed back.  Within weeks, I received all the records I needed.

As part of your membership, both Health Advocate and Health Proponent will provide services not just for you and your spouse, but also for your dependent children and your parents and parents-in-law.  In one case, my mother-in-law was worried about a drug prescribed for her.  The Health Advocate representative stayed on the phone until she had answered all of my mother-in-law’s questions. 

Representatives are trained to listen very well.  Regardless of the nature of the issue you raise, you are likely to feel that you have been heard and that the person with whom you talked is on your side.

Health Proponent provides telephone support, problem solving help, and a variety of online tools as part of membership.  Next week’s column will cover several additional points about using Health Proponent, including an explanation of additional services they offer and charges that may apply.