Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida HELPLINE: 866-413-5337
Skip to content

Medicare Minute: Preparing for Future Health Care Needs

Many people assume that their family members would automatically be able to make decisions about medical treatments if they were to become incapacitated. However, rules vary greatly from state to state:

  • Your family may have to go through a costly and time-consuming court process to get the legal right to make medical decisions for you.
  • Your family members may disagree on who should make medical decisions on your behalf, which could lead to legal disputes.
  • Someone unfamiliar with your preferences may be placed in charge of your treatment choices.

It’s important to have a plan ahead of time to avoid disagreements around treatment issues and to ensure your wishes are honored if you are incapacitated. Advance directives, living wills, health care proxies, and powers of attorney can help ensure that decisions made on your behalf meet your needs and preferences.

Important documents to have include:

  • Health care proxy – Names someone you trust as your proxy, or your  agent, to express your wishes and make health care decisions for you if you’re unable to speak for yourself.
  • Living will – A written record of the type of medical care you would want in specified situations.
  • Advance directive – Often refers to a combination including both a living will and health care proxy documents.
  • Power of attorney – Names someone you trust as your agent to make property, financial, and other legal decisions on your behalf.

For detailed tips on preparing these documents download the “Preparing for Future Health Care Needs” handout by the Medicare Rights Center. 

To understand how Medicare covers hospice and for answers to other Medicare coverage questions, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). You can visit or call your local SHINE Medicare Counselors at 1-866-413-5337. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *