As we established in last month’s newsletter (read here in case you missed it), Advance Care Planning benefits doctors, patients, and patients’ families. Beginning in 2016, Medicare will reimburse doctors for talking with patients about Advance Care Planning. No more excuses: it’s time to make your medical wishes known!
What’s the difference between Advance Directives and Advance Care Planning?
Advance Directives are the official documents that specify a person’s wishes for medical treatment if they cannot speak for themselves, such as a Living Will, Medical Power of Attorney, and HIPAA Release forms. Advance Care Planning encompasses these documents and even more, including treatment options for a specific illness or end-of-life care options.
Does this only apply to people with serious illnesses or those requiring hospice care?
Absolutely not. In fact, the best time to have this conversation is at a time when you’re not under the pressure of one of these difficult instances, and when you have complete control over your decision-making. Talking about your wishes in advance is always beneficial, and if a time of crisis arises and you want to change your directives, you have the option to revoke directives as well.
How can I take advantage of this benefit?
This benefit is not considered a preventative benefit covered under Part B. If you qualify for Medicare, you can have this discussion with your doctor at the standard 20% cost-sharing rate. We recommend tying the conversation into your annual Wellness check, so it’s at no extra cost to you.
Medicare has opened the door for doctors to benefit from having these conversations, and this is your gain as well. Though this is completely voluntary, we encourage you to make these medical wishes known before they become imperative!