Harrisburg, PA (Law Firm Newswire) September 29, 2016 – Changes to Medicare encourages discussions between patients and doctors about advance care planning by creating a separate billing code for end-of-life counseling.
In the past, Medicare only compensated a physician to have this conversation during the “Welcome to Medicare” visit, but often the topic did not seem relevant to the patient at that time.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the goal of the Obama administration is to develop a health care system that yields improved care, more effective spending, and healthier individuals and families. As part of this effort, Medicare is to compensate the physician for having yearly conversations about end-of-life issues so that as patients’ circumstances change, they are in a better position to make informed decisions.
Prominent Harrisburg, Pennsylvania elder law attorney Marielle Hazen of the Hazen Law Group states, “This change is an important step towards facilitating end of life discussions between physicians and patients, and enabling patients to control their end of life care.”
It was reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation that approximately 75 percent of the 2.5 million people who die every year are age 65 and older, and approximately 25 percent of all Medicare expenditures for health care occur during the final year of life. However, most patients would prefer not to undergo medical procedures when they are not expected to recover. Furthermore, Medicare provides specialized services under its hospice program that are intended to help a terminally ill patient feel more comfortable.
Advance care planning involves educating patients about the choices available to them regarding end-of-life care, and helping them decide which kinds of care are most suitable for them. It also involves communicating wishes to family members, friends and doctors, and carrying out their plans. Patients often need to have several discussions with their doctor in order to fully comprehend and describe their end-of-life wishes.
Advance care planning also involves having Health Care Powers of Attorney and Living Wills drafted. Elder law attorneys can ensure that these documents are drafted in a way that ensure attorneys can help with this process by drafting Health Care Powers of Attorney and Living Wills, but these documents are not a substitute for discussions with the physician. Following an adequate number of discussions with their physician, Medicare beneficiaries may be better able to complete legal documents, and designate a health care proxy, who makes decisions regarding the beneficiaries’ medical care if the beneficiaries are unable to do so.
Learn more at http://www.hazenlawgroup.com.
Hazen Law Group
2000 Linglestown Road
Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: (717) 540-4332
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