Nov 25 2015

The Gift of Peace of Mind

As many of us prepare to sit down with our loved ones this week, to catch up, share a meal and give thanks, we should also pause to give the gift of peace of mind.

Having an advance care plan and discussing it with your loved ones can provide this very peace of mind they deserve. There is no better time to start the conversation about your advance medical care wishes and priorities than this week when you’re surrounded by those you love most. While it seems like a difficult topic, it’s much better to discuss it when you’re gathered for a time of love than in the midst of an emergency. Why wait? We need to be advocates for our own health care now.

For consumers and healthcare providers alike, we have a lot to be thankful for this year. Last month, the government took a bold and important step by allowing doctors, for the first time, to be reimbursed by Medicare for discussing advance care planning with their patients. This is a huge step forward.

Then, last week, a rare bipartisan effort with simultaneous legislation in both the House and Senate (again, a rare occurrence!), with the support of many industry leaders, introduced a bill asking the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to incentivize all beneficiaries to create a digital advance care plan. We hope the private health insurance firms add a similar benefit for their corporate and individual benefits plans. If they join the rest of the healthcare industry in raising the bar on digital advance care planning, they can help ensure that all Americans have confidence their voices can be heard in their care, especially during a health emergency.

Dr. Molly Coye, Social Entrepreneur in Residence at the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation and former Chief Innovation Officer of the UCLA Health System, drives the digital point home, “This legislation will give Americans the tools and encouragement to document their healthcare wishes. It’s 2015 and time to leave behind our antiquated paper directives and use digital, easily accessible and updateable options whenever possible to share our wishes with loved ones and our medical teams.” 

Advance care plans shouldn’t be reserved for only those with Medicare. All of us should be able to clearly express our goals, preferences and priorities for our medical treatments and appoint healthcare agents in case there is an accident and we cannot communicate. This can all be done through digital directives.

If you’re visiting with loved ones over Thanksgiving, encourage them to document their wishes. Offer to help them do it. Make sure that they focus on their wishes, dreams and yes, even fears. Help them describe what’s important to them. But don’t lock a directive away in a drawer, where it might never be found in a crisis. Create a directive online – for free – where it’s always accessible and always updatable as circumstances change.

We all appreciate gathering around the table to give and receive gifts of holiday cheer; who doesn’t love the apple cider, the pumpkin pie and the perfect turkey? But there’s nothing more valuable than giving the gift of peace of mind to your loved ones. While enjoying this quality time with your loved ones, consider taking a moment to share with them your healthcare wishes and encourage them to do the same. The time is now.


Medicare Molly Coye Thanksgiving

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