Remember all of the “death panels” doom and gloom scare tactics prior to the passing of the Affordable Care Act? According to a recent poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the public overwhelmingly supports Medicare paying for end-of-life-talks.
Eight of 10 people surveyed supported the government or insurers paying for planning discussions about the type of care patients preferred in the waning days or weeks of their lives.
From an article by Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News:
These discussions can include whether people would want to be kept alive by artificial means even if they had no chance of regaining consciousness or autonomy and whether they would want their organs to be donated. These preferences can be incorporated into advance directives, or living wills, which are used if someone can no longer communicate.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced earlier this year plans to start paying physicians for separate office visits to discuss end-of-life issues with their Medicare patients. Providing Congress can get over its analysis paralysis these plans are expected to be implemented in the final regulations.
The broad support of the public in favor of requiring Medicare to cover end-of-life discussions between doctors and patients about end-of-life treatment options has the same level of support for private health insurance covering these discussions.
Last year The Institute of Medicine released a report Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life. The report suggests that the first end-of-life conversation could take place as young as the age of 16, when a person gets their driver’s license. That’s the first time a person weighs what it means to be an organ donor. The idea, according to the IOM, is to “help normalize the advance care planning process by starting it early, to identify a health care agent, and to obtain guidance in the event of a rare catastrophic event.”