VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

Taking control of your late-stage life planning

The most difficult, yet intimate conversation patients have with their doctors involve the end of their lives. Regardless of age, anyone comes to a doctor looking for hopeful news regarding their health. Many times, much-needed talks revolve around what happens if recovery is not an option.

End-of-life counseling is growing in popularity among Medicare patients. Doctors can now charge the federal program for providing this growingly important service. Funding can pays doctors to counsel 56 million Medicare patients on their preferences.

In 2015, officials with The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) quietly issued the new rule to improve patients' ability to make decisions about their care. End of life conversations were still going on before, but not as often as medical professionals felt should be occurring.

The program launched the following year. From January through June of 2016, 223,000 patients participated in advanced planning conversations. Nearly 14,000 providers billed almost $35 million, including almost $16 million paid by Medicare.

While full year figures are not yet available, use continues to be higher than anticipated. In fact, meetings are likely to outpace estimates by the American Medical Association of 300,000 patients. Supporters see evidence of early use as proof of the growing interest in late-stage life planning.

Meetings can occur during annual wellness exams, office visits or hospital stays.
During the consultations, doctors do not provide specific diagnoses. Conversations revolve around medical directives and treatment preferences that involve hospice enrollment and care preferences if patients lose the ability to make their own decisions.

Simply stated, patients can establish their own healthcare preferences and memorialize them in appropriate and enforceable estate planning documents.

If you would like to discuss end of life decision making, please contact VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP and schedule a consultation.

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