Consider health care a team sport—your health and care may impact you the most, but there are people out there who can help and advocate for you. Everyone needs help, especially when facing a serious disease or medical crisis. For this reason, you should establish a health posse: a few people in your life who can act on your behalf should you need assistance.
Whether it’s a spouse, a friend, or a neighbor down the street, here are the things members of your health posse should be prepared to do:
- Make legally binding health decisions for you if for any reason you are not able to make these decisions yourself.
- Become an expert on your medical condition, including recommended treatments, finding the highest-quality care, and connecting with other patients who have gone through the same condition.
- Deal with the medical folks and institutions who wind up providing your care. This can include the care being provided, who is providing it, what they charge for the services, and advocating for your rights.
- Understand how your health insurance works, including what it covers, how to appeal claims denials, and how to wrangle over bills.
- Worry on your behalf about how you’ll pay for treatment, including what it costs, what it should cost, and how to negotiate effectively to pay as little as possible.
- Coordinate with other people in your life to help handle your obligations, including grocery shopping and meal preparation, handling home maintenance appointments and repair visits, helping your kids and other family members.
- Keep posse members up to date on how you’re doing.
- Listen to you, rants and all, and provide the emotional support you need.
- Do whatever else it takes so that you can focus on your treatment and recovery need.
If someone is in your health posse, you are likely in theirs. Take the time to educate and involve yourself in their health care so you can support them when they need it most.
Find further details in my new book, Get What’s Yours for Health Care: How to Get the Best Care at the Right Price.