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What is Medicare's role in advance care planning?

Industry News | Jan 03, 2017

Back at the start of 2016, Medicare started covering voluntary advance care planning.

Advance care planning is an important component of an individual's health care because it allows Medicare enrollees to discuss their plans regarding end-of-life care and their preferences.

This may be a difficult topic to think about or discuss with a loved one, but it's important to know about Medicare's role in advance care planning and what it means for you.

What exactly is advance care planning?

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, advance care planning is a process that informs individuals of their options for end-of-life care.

End-of-life care includes health care options an individual can receive in the days or years before passing and can include hospice care, for example.

As such, advance care planning allows you to make decisions about the type of care you want to receive should you be unable to speak for yourself. Advance care planning is important because it lets you make your own decisions and informs you of health care options should you need them in the future.

"Advance care planning is a process that informs individuals of their options for end-of-life care."

Advance care planning also helps bridge the disconnect between desires and definitive action. The KFF stated 90 percent of seniors want to receive end-of-life care in their homes, yet only one-third of them actually pass away in the comforts of their own home.

The wishes you make while planning for the future are yours alone, but you can share them with doctors, family and friends.

What does Medicare cover?

Voluntary advance care planning is part of your annual "Wellness" doctor visit you're entitled to. This means if you're currently enrolled in Part B, Medicare will pick up the costs of advance care planning.

If you've already used your annual "Wellness" visit, Medicare may still cover advance care consultation if it's deemed medically necessary.

Medicare already covers numerous health care options, such as home care and, if needed, hospice care. But it can be reassuring to know you don't have to pay anything while discussing advance care planning.

What else should I know?

You don't need to be nearing the end of your life in order to have advance care planning discussions. As long as you have Medicare, you can take advantage of this benefit. It helps to prepare for the future even if you're completely healthy in the present.

Additionally, you can always change your mind about your end-of-life plans because advance care planning is an ongoing discussion.

With a new year upon us, it's important you start to consider your future well being. Do so by scheduling an advance care planning session to discuss your care choices when you might not be able to make your own decisions.

End-of-life care is never an easy discussion to have, but it's one you need to think about. It's important that you are comfortable and receive the care you desire.