If you're fighting to get insurance coverage for yourself, a seriously ill child or another relative, you can take steps to improve your odds. Doctors, advocates and others offer this advice:
1. Don't give up. It's often tough to understand complex insurance policies or government programs, but keep at it. Didn't get a call back? Call again. Didn't like what you heard? Ask to talk to a supervisor. When dealing with claims adjusters or bureaucrats, be cordial but firm. It helps if you can win people over and convince them to want to help you - but if they aren't cooperative they should know you aren't going away.
2. Document everything. Write down the names of everyone you talk to, what was said and time of day. Keep copies of medical records. If you appeal a decision down the road or just need to present your case to a supervisor, good records will be invaluable.
3.Educate yourself. Study your insurance policies, network rules and other restrictions. Ask questions about anything you don't understand. Join a support group offered by a hospital, an Internet site or county and state agencies or others. They can help you understand the system. An added bonus: Others in similar situations can empathize and help ease your distress.
4. Find one strong advocate. Talk to your doctor's office. Staffers often will help you lobby for insurance, Medicaid or other coverage. They've been through these issues many times and can provide a wealth of advice. Support groups can help you write letters.
5. Appeal decisions you don't like. Often, insurance companies or state health-care programs will deny your claim or request the first time around, hoping that you will foot the bill yourself or give up. But if you pursue it, you can sometimes qualify for help on appeal. Find out what your appeal rights are, and consider taking your case to the next level. It can make the difference between getting help or going without.
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