| Tue, Apr 19, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

How to Prepare for Making Tough Health Care Decisions

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

advance directiveIt’s difficult for many people to think clearly during a medical crisis. But often that’s exactly when critical health care decisions must be made.

Advance care planning is a service that may help individuals prepare for making difficult health care decisions in the future. It involves conversations with your doctor to:

  • Clarify your values and health care preferences
  • Learn about different types of end-of-life care
  • Decide which types of care may fit with your values and preferences

Advance care planning is different from an advance directive. An advance directive is a legal record of end-of-life wishes. Advance care planning may result in creating an advance directive, but that’s not the goal.

The purpose of advance care planning is to help individuals think through what they would want in a medical emergency. They may discuss many possible scenarios with their doctors.

Some topics discussed may depend on an individual’s current health conditions. A person with high blood pressure, for example, could learn about what decisions may need to be made if they had a stroke.

Advance care planning is important even for people with no health problems. Accidents happen. What might you want if you were in a coma and couldn’t breathe on your own?

These are difficult decisions. Talking about them may be difficult, too. But someone will have to make decisions about your treatment and welfare if you can no longer decide for yourself. Advance care planning may be the difference between getting the care you would want and getting care that others think you would want.

You may begin the advance care planning process at any time. Simply tell your doctor you’d like to start the discussion.

Medicare Part B covers advance care planning visits. Or you may have the service as part of your annual Wellness Visit.


“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” This quote is from a Harley Davidson ad. But the words send a moving message to all of us.

Advance care planning may help ensure that you are the author of your own life story right up to the end.

Related Content

Care and Planning for End-of-Life (video)

Caregiver Corner: Necessary Conversations Part 2 (article)

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


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