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Patient advocates guide through confusion of medical bills

An industry of patient and medical billing advocates help guide patients on dealing with medical bills and insurance companies, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times. These patient advocate professionals help fight denied claims, file appeals, secure insurer authorization for care and generally navigate patients on insurance rules.

"People just don't understand what's on their bill. The language is written in medical terminology. Sometimes clients just want a translation," Maureen Lamb, a medical billing advocate and chief executive of Medical Bill Support in Holderness, N.H., told the Los Angeles Times.

According to the report, there is no training or licensing requirements for advocates, but many are former nurses, attorneys or medical coding professionals while some are also certified by organizations such as the American Academy of Professionals Coders. They also may charge up to $150 per hour of consultation.

Some employees may also have access to these services on the job, which is a trend that has increased as high-deductible health plans become more common, Alexander Domaszewicz, a principal with Mercer, told the Los Angeles Times.

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