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Some private health insurance companies provide an 800 number that participants can call to speak to a nurse about a medical problem. For some medical problems, the nurse can provide the necessary advice, and a visit to a physician or emergency room is avoided. For matters that the nurse cannot resolve over the phone, the nurse can direct the participant to the proper resource for treatment.
Private insurance companies must find a medical help lines cost-effective, or they would not provide them.
To contain costs and support better outcomes, Medicare and Medicaid may wish to experiment with providing a medical help line.