Last week’s column described a service called Health Proponent ( that can help you navigate the health care system, from finding the right in-home elder care to sorting out problems with insurance claims.  Basic phone consultations and money-saving online tools are included in an annual $29.95 fee, which covers you, your spouse, dependent children, parents, and parents-in-law. 

Members also can use the “Medical Bill Saver” service.  Health Proponent will try to negotiate a lower cost for any medical bill over $400, without any up-front charge.  Instead, they will take 25% of the savings.  For example, if you get a bill for $10,000 and they gain agreement for $6,000 to be accepted as payment in full, you would pay the doctor or hospital $6000 and pay Health Proponent $1,000, saving yourself $3,000.  If Health Proponent doesn’t succeed in getting the bill reduced, you don’t pay them anything.

If you describe any other problem that is going to be complex and time-consuming for Health Proponent to help you with – perhaps because it will involve discussion with third parties such as insurance agencies and doctors’ offices – Health Proponent reserves the right to tell you, up front, that for them to proceed will involve an additional charge.  Typically, that charge is $99, but it can vary based on the complexity of the issue. You always have the right to decline, in which case you don’t owe any extra fee.  If you elect not to have them take the needed steps, in some cases, they may be able to suggest (at no charge) actions you might take yourself. 

If you don’t have health insurance, you might ask Health Proponent to help you understand the typical rate that insurers pay for a particular surgery or other care in your area.  With this information, you will be in a better position to negotiate with the doctor or hospital for lower rates yourself.   

Some of the services Health Proponent offers are available free through government or non-profit agencies, particularly for lower income individuals. For example, the Area Agency on Aging anywhere in the country will evaluate elderly people and help them get needed services to improve their chances of safely remaining in their own homes longer.  But if you don’t know what agencies to approach or what to ask for, you may find it easier simply to call Health Proponent.

Many of the services that Health Proponent provides are ones that individuals can do themselves – but only if they have the time, patience, emotional energy, and familiarity with the ins and outs of the health care and insurance worlds to do so.  You may ultimately save yourself a great deal of time, trouble, and money if you sometimes let experts help you out.