Cate Kortzeborn
Courtesy: Medicare

When I talk to people with Medicare about planning for the end of their lives, the statistic that always strikes me is this: If you ask people where they’d rather die — in a hospital or at home — 75 percent say at home, while 25 percent say in a hospital. But when you look at what actually happens, only 25 percent get to die at home, and 75 percent pass away in hospitals.

The only way you can ensure that your doctor understands your wishes is by discussing them. And now, Medicare will reimburse your doctor for that conversation.

This is called advance care planning. It’s designed to help people with Medicare learn about various options for end-of-life care; determine which types of care best fit their personal wishes; and share those wishes with their family, friends and physicians.

One option you can discuss with your doctor is hospice care. Hospice is intended to help terminally ill people live out their lives as comfortably as possible, usually in their own homes. Hospice doesn’t focus on curing disease and it’s not only for people with cancer.

Medicare’s hospice benefit covers your care. You shouldn’t have to go outside of hospice to get care, except in rare situations. Once you choose it, your hospice benefit should cover everything you need.

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