How the Member Advocacy Program helped the Thompsons
During a routine ultrasound in October 2010, Angie and Chad Thompson of Minot learned their baby had spina bifida, a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. The emotional and medical issues of coping with a diagnosis like this is more than enough.
But families in this situation are also faced with the additional stress of sorting through a complicated web of appointments, medical bills and health insurance questions. That's where Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota's Member Advocacy Program fits in. The program helps members and their families experiencing complex medical conditions. Angie was relieved the first time Miriam Griffin from BCBSND called her. "She had no idea that just two minutes earlier I'd had a mini meltdown with my husband crying, ‘if only we had someone to help handle the insurance and bills to make sure they are correct,'" Angie told BCBSND.
The Thompsons' son, Palmer, was born four weeks early in Minot. Less than four hours after his birth, he was flown to Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He had surgery to close the opening on his back when he was 30 hours old and another surgery to place a shunt to drain fluid from his brain when he was 11 days old. Palmer, who is now 15 months old, spent two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit.
An ad about the program featuring Palmer and mother, Angie
Palmer and his family are the subject of a new BCBSND ad (above) that is appearing in publications across the state, introducing North Dakotans to BCBSND's Member Advocacy Program. The family is also featured in a new TV ad about the program.
Miriam and other BCBSND member advocate specialists help members experiencing life-changing medical events. She helps members understand their medical bills and insurance benefits, contacts providers to resolve billing issues and monitors claims to ensure they are being processed correctly. Because participants have complex claims, the program allows them to contact their MAP representative directly with questions. "My role is to remove some of the frustrations that come with health care and the health care system, so they can focus on the health of their child," Miriam said.
Angie said the program was exactly what the family needed. "It's wonderful knowing that someone is watching over us, and I can call someone who is familiar with our family with questions at any time," she said. "I'm able to focus more on our beautiful two sons knowing I don't have to worry as much about insurance with the help of our new friend, Miriam, at BCBSND."