Church Pension Group | Being Your Own Healthcare Advocate

Being Your Own Healthcare Advocate

Manage your health and healthcare. It’s important to understand your choices and options for healthcare and treatment, as well as maintaining your health. A few steps can help you take control.

Understand your healthcare benefits

Review your healthcare benefits package to understand the benefits available to you. The Episcopal Church Medical Trust (Medical Trust) plans offer different types of medical plans: HMO, PPO, High Deductible. It’s important to understand the benefits of each plan type.

  • What are the copays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums?
  • Do you need referrals to visit a specialist?
  • How does the plan charge for network and out-of-network providers?

All the Medical Trust plans offer pharmacy, vision, hearing, and mental health benefits. Dental benefits may be purchased as a separate plan.

Health Advocate benefit

Being your own healthcare advocate does not mean going it alone. Advocating for your healthcare needs is best accomplished by taking advantage of support services from healthcare experts.

One important benefit of the Medical Trust health plans is Health Advocate. This is a confidential service that can reduce some of the stress and confusion associated with navigating the healthcare system. Health Advocate representatives will help you understand your diagnoses, secure second opinions, find the best hospitals and doctors, schedule appointments, and manage health benefit claims.

Call (866) 695- 8622, or visit and use the password episcopal.

Members also have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through their Medical Trust health plan. The EAP is a free, confidential, 24-hour service that connects you with counselors to help you with immediate health needs and with assistance for therapy referrals, tips for balancing your personal and professional life, legal consultations, financial services, and much more.

Both services are included as part of your Medical Trust health plan.

Be involved

Patients involved in managing their health and treatment have better outcomes. Finding support and guidance from your doctor during this time is important and can help reduce the stress associated with the treatment process. Relying on your support system and community to help with the treatment process can also be helpful. This can reduce your effort and stress and aid in your care plan when you are unwell. Here are some tips to help make the process easier for you and your support team:

  • Have someone supportive with you when you visit the doctor or healthcare provider, or are having tests done.
  • Take notes and repeat back the information to be sure you understand. Ask for clarification if needed.
  • Review your treatment options and get second opinions.
  • If appropriate for your illness, identify a “Center of Excellence” for treatment and resources.
  • Ask for websites with more information and resources.
  • Keep notes.
  • Write down your questions and bring them with you to appointments. Some providers offer email or phone access to answer questions between visits.
  • Contact Health Advocate for assistance and information.

Maintain a healthcare file

Keep your doctor, providers, and support system up-to-date with accurate and recent information about your health and treatment. This can help your doctor make clear decisions about the progress of your health and your treatment plan. Discuss your health history with your doctor and provide information about the medications and supplements you use, allergies you may have, and symptoms you may be feeling. Keep a healthcare file that includes all of your recent medical information and history.

With a healthcare file, you won’t need to worry about forgetting anything – an important consideration if you are nervous and distracted, or are not able to tell your medical provider yourself.

Your healthcare file should include:

  • Current medications with dosages – update whenever dosages or medicines change
  • Medication and food allergies
  • List of doctors and medical treatment providers, with contact information
  • Emergency contacts – multiple numbers and/or multiple people
  • Your preferred pharmacy phone number
  • Relevant family medical history
  • Important treatment records that include hospital discharge summaries, prior surgeries, and recent lab reports
  • Information regarding any implanted devices
  • Immunization record
  • List of alternative treatments and supplements
  • Health Directive and Health Proxy

Be sure to let your loved ones or support team know where your file is.