The Obama administration recently released new proposed Medicare rules which would allow physicians to be reimbursed for discussing advanced care and end-of-life planning with their Medicare patients.

According to the proposed rule, which was recommended by the American Medical Association, such a discussion could include “the explanation and discussion of advance directives such as standard forms (with completion of such forms, when performed) by the physician or other qualified health professional.”

Once the subject of derisive and politically-motivated claims of being “death panels,” the new Department of Health and Human Services proposal imposes no requirements that Medicare patients have to sign any order or even discuss end-of-life care with their doctors. The proposed regulation simply would allow medical providers to bill Medicare for “advance-care planning” if a patient does in fact want to have such a discussion.

Advance-Care Planning Can Bring Clarity and Peace of Mind

The fact is, all seniors at some point should give consideration to advanced health care planning, including both end-of-life decisions and situations in which you’re temporarily incapacitated, such as a loss of consciousness after an accident or surgery. Although you don’t have to be near the end of your life for your advanced directive documents to come into play, most people associate this type of planning with final and terminal illnesses.

Advanced health care planning involves much more than just filling out documents or signing your name on a bunch of forms. It is really a process that involves in-depth discussions with family members and health care providers. Here are just a few steps and considerations as you start the process.

Do speak with your doctor

You likely don’t know what you don’t know about your options in terms of care and treatment, what standard care protocols are, or what science has discovered about the dying process. Speak openly with your doctor about your questions and concerns.

Spend the time to think about what you want

Once you have spoken with your physician or other health care provider, you will be prepared to choose options that comport with your values and religious preferences.

Choose who will make decisions if you can’t

Whether a family member, a close friend, or someone else who you trust implicitly, select one individual to serve as the decision maker for all advanced directive documents. Choose a mature, trustworthy individual who will act with your best interests and wishes in mind.

Speak with your chosen representative about your wishes

Serving as a health care representative is a big responsibility. Discuss your choice with the person you wish to serve before naming him or her in any documents.

Meet with an experienced elder law attorney

In order to ensure that your wishes are carried out, it is important to prepare and execute the appropriate and complete documentation. Retain an experienced California elder law attorney who can make sure your decisions are legally enforceable.

Review your documents every once in a while

Hopefully, many years will pass between the time you execute your documents and the time they are needed. During that time, your circumstances may change. It is a good idea to regularly review your advanced directive documents to make sure they are up to date and still relevant to your current situation.

Rushing & Guice, P.L.L.C.: Mississippi and Gulf Coast Estate Planning and Asset Protection Attorneys

Going through the process of advanced care planning and making these important decisions while you are in good health can provide you with tremendous peace of mind both now and in the future. If you are a senior or a loved one of a senior looking for answers and guidance on the important matters that arise as we age, call us at (228) 374-2313 or fill out our online form to arrange an initial consultation to discuss your case. We look forward to hearing from you and look forward to the opportunity to serve as your attorneys.

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