For many Americans, the nation's health care system is frustratingly complex and confusing — and only getting more so.
"Big-time stress. Big-time stress," says Ray Ansardi about the day his scheduled angioplasty (search) was suddenly canceled. "You're worried about your health condition."
So, like tens of thousands of Americans, Ansardi turned to a personal health care advocacy service (search), a sort of health care middleman, to sort it all out.
This was just what the doctor ordered in terms of getting a quick fix. Two days later, he says, his procedure was back on.
"You don't have a whole lot of time to deal with things like this," says Ansardi. "I had no clue who to call, whatever else. They do. They're professionals. They know who to call."
Jane Cooper spent 20 years running the business of HMOs and PPOs. Now she runs her own advocacy service, Patient Care (search), based in New Orleans.
Customers pay $200 a year for the service. In return, they get benefits from Cooper's two decades of experience: her network of insider connections and her ability to get them quick access to doctors.
Cooper says that not only is her company growing tremendously, but so is the entire advocacy industry — which is relatively new.
"Health care is confusing, intimidating, frustrating for everyone, and of course, it's getting more and more expensive," Cooper said.
But critics see the emergence of the health care advocacy industry as a reflection of what they call a two-tiered health care system.
An advocacy service like Cooper's, they say, will definitely relieve health care headaches for those who can afford the yearly fees. But those who can't afford to hire a professional will still be left with their questions, problems and confusion, and possibly further back in line.
Click in the video box above to watch a report by FOX News' Phil Keating.