Starting January 1, 2016, Medicare is expanding coverage to include “advance care planning.” Advance care planning is designed to help individuals identify their health care options for end-of-life care and determine which option best fits their needs and wishes. Often, this may include creating or updating a living will that clearly reflects the individual’s preferences in order to communicate such preferences to family and/or care providers. In 2016, Medicare will cover consultations with physicians and other health care providers to discuss advance care planning options and determine how the individual wishes to be cared for as they approach the end of their life.
Overlooked by many, advance care planning is an important aspect of one’s estate plan. It allows you to identify your care options, decide which option is best for you and communicate your plan to your family or care providers, ensuring that your wishes are followed if the situation arises and avoiding the need for your spouse or children to make difficult end-of-life care decisions on their own.