Social Workers Soak Up Insurance Information

Social workers learn about disability, high-risk pools and other insurance issues
Author: Beth Marshall

In April, 40 social workers from hemophilia treatment centers (HTCs) had the opportunity to network, learn and exchange best practices at the National Hemophilia Foundation’s 5th Annual Social Work Symposium in Dallas.

The Social Work Symposium was created in 2006 to provide accurate, up-to-date information about insurance to social workers at federally funded HTCs. “This is the information we need to know,” says Laurel Pennick, LCSW, a social worker at the Arizona Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center in Tucson. “Insurance is a very hot topic and one our patients face on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The social worker frequently works as an interpreter. We take a confusing issue like insurance and walk with people through the system so that they can better understand it and put together a plan on how to deal with it.” 

The theme of this year’s conference was “Navigating the Maze: Your Road to a Better Understanding.” The symposium offered a variety of sessions on insurance issues, including disability, high-risk pools, private insurance, and healthcare reform’s expected effect on the bleeding disorders community. Local representatives from the regional offices of Medicare and Medicaid also offered expert advice. Seasoned social workers presented case studies, and breakout sessions facilitated problem-solving skills.

“Each workshop has had a different focus that is in tune with the current healthcare issues at the time,” says Michael Bradley, vice president of healthcare economics and reimbursement for Baxter BioScience. “Now that healthcare reform is a reality, it is more important than ever to stay up to date on all insurance-related matters.”

Pennick agrees. “I felt this sym­posium was one of the best we’ve had, because there are finally changes to healthcare that really help the community.

“We’ve all dealt with families where parents are changing jobs because their 3-year-old has reached the lifetime cap. With the new healthcare reform, we are finally learning about something that can really help our patients instead of just giving them bad news.”

The Social Work Symposium was sponsored by Baxter BioScience.