Beth Sufian, J.D., a lawyer in private practice in Houston, TX, specializing in disability rights
Beth Sufian gave two highly informative talks at the 1997 CFRI
Conference. In "Negotiation Strategies for Dealing with Your Health Care Provider,
Insurance Provider or Employer," Ms. Sufian stressed the necessity of being prepared.
She encouraged us to look ahead (you do not want to be doing this leg work when you are
already hospitalized), attempt to determine future needs, and prepare. In order to do
this, she urged us to have a complete copy of our insurance policies on hand, and to read
Ms. Sufian then covered strategies for negotiating with the employer, the insurance company and the health care providers in the event we disagreed with the handling of a situation. She had hand-outs with sample letters to insurers and gave examples from her personal experience of ways in which she has negotiated either in her own behalf or on behalf of a client. Finally, she discussed the importance of researching the situation, knowing all the facts, keeping detailed notes of the events and people talked to, and presenting claims in a calm and rational manner. She had tips to make the process easier, for example, getting a case worker with whom you could develop a relationship, and understanding the limited knowledge and power of a claim processor.
In her second talk, "Employee Options to Full Time Work," Ms. Sufian again urged us to look to the future. She suggested that there may be a time when work hours must be reduced either for your own health or to care for the health of your spouse or child. Ms. Sufian discussed the various laws that can assist us with this transition either by providing time off or additional benefits, or by extending one's health care insurance policy. Ms. Sufian's very thorough coverage of the topic also included: how we might structure our current jobs in an effort to be in the best position when a work-reduction eventuality becomes a necessity, how to obtain time off without having to quit, restructuring work hours to accommodate medical needs, extending health insurance benefits when one does stop work, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Disability Insurance and Hospital Indemnity Policies, Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) and limitations on the ability to work, how to receive a nine-month trial work period if receiving SSDI, state laws covering disability and how they might interplay with the federal laws, and career options to full time work.
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