Advanced Directives, also known as Living Wills, are estate-planning documents that declare your end-of-life health care decisions. Advance care planning allows you to state your preferences about the type of health care treatments you would or would not want to receive should you become gravely ill or incapacitated. An Advanced Directive only comes into effect when you become unable to make decisions or speak for yourself.
There is a growing push for all American adults to have Advanced Directives because of the exponential rise in the cost of end-of-life health care. According an editorial in the New York Times, the top 5 percent of such patients account for nearly half of spending (more than $600 billion a year), and the cost per capita of 1 percent of such patients is $90,000 compared with $236 per capita of the bottom 50 percent.”
This week the Senate advanced a bill that would give incentives to Medicare beneficiaries for advanced directives. The incentive would start in 2015 and would be a one-time payment of $75 for beneficiaries that create an online advance directive or $50 for creating one on paper. In addition to the monetary incentive, the bill would also establish an Advanced Directive Certification Program in efforts to make nationalized standards for these documents. It would also accredit certain vendors for storing Advanced Directives. These procedures would make it easier for doctors determine if a patient has an Advanced Directive document in place. As it stands now, there are only state-specific storage options, which may not be helpful if you end of hospitalized in a different state. This bill would also require educational program for Medicare beneficiaries on this topic.
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