Medicare Your Coverage Options

What care do you want if you become seriously ill? Talk to your doctor

Written by Diane Archer

One fourth or so of Medicare annual spending–about $33,500 a person–goes to the cost of care for the 1.8 million people over 65 who die each year.  The cost of their care is high largely because they often have complex conditions, and two-thirds of them die in the hospital.What care do you want if you become seriously ill? Medicare now covers advance care planning to ensure that older adults have their care wishes honored in the days, weeks and months before they die.

Medicare will cover the full cost of a visit with your doctor to discuss your end-of-life wishes as part of your Medicare annual wellness visit. If you do a separate trip to the doctor, traditional Medicare covers 80 percent of the cost. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan, call the plan to find out your out-of-pocket costs. Here are six reasons why you and your loved ones should do advance care planning and create advance directives.

The data suggest that most people do not plan ahead–through advance care planning–and do not understand their care options. For example, most people prefer to die at home if they are terminally ill. But, they often have not had the chance to decide their care wishes or to share them with trusted family members, doctors or others in their social network. And, they end up dying in the hospital. So, ask your loved ones about end of life care.

Hospitals and nursing homes are required to ask patients on admission whether they have advance directives–living wills and health care proxies–under the Patient Self-Determination Act of 1991.   These care facilities must keep a record of whether patients have advance directives in their files. But, patients are not required to have them.

About 40 percent of people over 65 have not done advance care planning and do not have advance directives. Each state has its own law regarding advance directives.  To find out how to get advance directives for your state as well as information on how to complete them, check out Just Care’s get help page here.

Medicare also covers hospice services, including pain management, palliative care to offer comfort, pain and other symptoms management for people with complex and chronic conditions, and up to five days of respite care for caregivers. Hospice services are usually available in patients’ homes. Today, more than four in ten people with Medicare elect hospice care, more than double the rate from 2000 (23 percent).

Here’s more from Just Care:

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