On January 1, 2016, Medicare will begin covering the medical costs for patients who wish to participate in end-of-life counseling sessions. Many medical personnel already discuss these subjects with patients, however, they do not receive any reimbursement.
Under the new coverage, physicians and nurse practitioners, as well as other health care providers, will now receive payment for the time they spend discussing end-of-life options with patients.
A report issued in 2014 by the Institute of Medicine, "Dying in America," touted the importance of providing patients with the opportunity to discuss what life saving measures they do or do not want taken in the event that decision has to be made, as well as other end-of-life care options. The report found that many patients suffer through invasive treatments instead of receiving more comfort care, mainly because they never have end-of-life care discussions with their physicians, or even their families.
Medicare came up with the proposal, which was supported by Congress, as well as more than 50 organizations, including AARP and the American Medical Association (AMA).
A patient can have a counseling session either during his or her regular wellness checkup or during a separate appointment. Patients are encouraged to have these discussions with their doctors when they are healthy, as well as if they are struggling with a life-threatening illness.
The Institute's report also concluded that people may have different decisions depending on where they are in life. For example, a healthy person may choose extraordinary measures to be taken if he or she is in an accident, but do not feel the same way if he or she is facing a terminal illness such as cancer.
Once a person has decided what end-of-life care he or she wants, it is also important to decide who should legally oversee any medical or financial decisions that need to be made if the individual become too ill or incapacitated to make those decisions. A health care power of attorney and a property power of attorney will ensure that the person or people you wish to handle those decisions will be the one(s) making them.
If you need help in drafting powers of attorney, contact an experienced DuPage County estate planning attorney to assist you. Contact the law firm of Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC, at 630-665-2500 today.