Medicare to pay doctors for end of life counseling

Medicare will now pay doctors for offering end-of-life counseling to patients. This policy change will take effect retroactively from January 1, 2015. The counseling absolutely voluntary for patients.

Many physicians already engage in such conversations with patients without charging them additional amounts. In addition, some private insurers have also begun to offer reimbursement for such services. However, making the service voluntary to 55 million Medicare beneficiaries will make such conversations a lot more common.

Three fourth of the people dying in the United States every year are 65 years of age or older and this means Medicare the largest insurer for people at the end of their lives. Many who make policies for Medicare feet that end-of-life counseling holds the key to high-quality care.

Medicare has given “end-of-lie counseling” a new name. It’s being called “advance care planning”, and it is aimed at figuring out the kind of treatments patients wish to receive during the last days of their lives. The options range from all-out medical efforts for resuscitating dying patients to providing patients with care that focuses more on comfort than increasing their life span.

Medicare’s decision has been praised by the American Medical Association.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.