Costs, Equity, Needs Navigation

White Paper: Health Needs Navigation

Learn about the vastness of the navigation field, those who provide the services and the policy opportunities to make Needs Navigation a standard of care.



Summary

Avoiding financial distress is a top concern for many people coping with complex chronic conditions. Uninsured, underinsured, and limited-resourced patients are particularly predisposed to financial distress which inevitably leads to worse health outcomes and amplifies health disparities. Unfortunately, in America, many of us are just one serious diagnosis away from experiencing financial devastation. In fact, data compiled by Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) reveal that over 20 percent of adults have experienced significant unexpected medical bills and 37 percent have unpaid medical debt. Furthermore, these challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic with many people having lost jobs and insurance coverage, delaying care, or becoming caregivers to seriously ill loved ones.

There is, however, an effective solution that provides both relief and hope for patients and their families. Needs Navigation services help address people’s financial and social needs (e.g., food, utilities, transportation, and housing). Navigators, or case managers as they are called at PAF, provide direct support to patients and families—assessing their unmet needs and navigating them to available safety net programs and through the often-confusing bureaucracy associated with them. Needs Navigation is especially essential for limited-resourced patients who are typically overlooked and experience more barriers to both healthcare and social supports.

Learning from PAF’s rich history of providing Needs Navigation support to patients and families, we aim to raise awareness of and integrate Needs Navigation into our healthcare system so that all patients and families have access to it. This white paper is a compilation of what we’ve learned about the vastness of the navigation field, those who provide the services and the policy opportunities to make Needs Navigation a standard of care.

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