Sometimes it seems easier and less stressful to be the patient than the caretaker. If you're ill, people scurry around taking care of you. But if you're the patient's loved one, it's up to you to make sure his care goes smoothly and seamlessly, and that there are no insurance or legal entanglements. That's not an easy task, as hospitals and medical centers are complex institutions. That's when you turn to a health care navigator.
A health care navigator calmly and compassionately guides you through the often-complicated medical system, answering questions like, "Who should I speak with about my loved one's lack of an appetite?" "Will we need special medical equipment or home health care when he comes home?" "How do I arrange that, and will insurance pay?" Current navigators are often former nurses, but future health care navigators will have a good grounding in both health care systems and social work or related fields [source: Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan].
Health care navigators are also being used to help consumers figure out the U.S. health insurance marketplace (which came into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare") and decide which health plan makes the most sense to buy. These navigators come from a variety of backgrounds, but they have to be certified by completing a training program and maintaining continuing education credits [source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services].