Beginning January 1, Medicare beneficiaries can receive end of life care planning.
According to the British Medical Journal, research has shown that advance care planning and the patient-physician discussions result in a higher quality of life for patients and their family caregivers facing the end of a life. Also, advance care planning reduces stress, anxiety and depression in surviving relatives.
What exactly does this mean?
The new rule allows physicians, as part of the Medicare annual visits, to discuss end-of-life treatment, including advance directives. Simply, doctors will be reimbursed for holding voluntary end-of-life discussions with patients during annual checkups.
Contrary to what some politicians want you to believe, there is not a government "death panel."
An advance care planning consultation is not about limiting or rationing care. It's not about hastening death. It's not about having choices made for the patient. It's not about saving money. No power is given to anyone else and there is no loss of control by patients.
In the next two decades, a fifth of the U.S. population will be over age 65. Advance care planning lays out the options and allows patients, in consultation with their providers and family members; to ensure that their future treatment is consistent with their wishes and moral values should they become too sick to decide for themselves.
Doctors provide information to patients on how to prepare an ʺadvance directive,ʺ stating how aggressively they wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves.
Advance care planning includes completing a living will and appointing a health care proxy.
Only 30 percent of Americans have a living will. Through life planning, the individual will be allowed to keep control of choices about life-sustaining treatment. A living will gives detail as to how the individual wants to be treated if they become seriously ill and unable to communicate.