Advance Care Planning: An Overview

What would happen if you were unable to speak for yourself? Would your loved one and family know your wishes? If your answer to the second question is no, you are not alone. Depending on the survey, statistics show 53 to 74 percent of Americans have not planned ahead. But there’s never a better time than the present to think about advance care planning and make your wishes known.

Changes in Advance Care Planning

In July 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a proposal that would provide patients with the assistance they deserve when it comes to advance care planning. CMS proposed that physicians be paid for having advance care discussions with their patients. The CMS proposal was approved in October 2015, and on January 1, 2016, the policy went into effect.

The CMS policy empowers anyone faced with the challenges of advancing age and life-limiting illness with the knowledge to make important decisions. Physicians can counsel their patients and give them control over the type of care they receive and when they receive it.

What Can Be Included in Advance Care Planning Discussions?

advanced care planningAdvance care planning discussions can include the following:

  • Advance directive: the overall plan of a person’s wishes, that is to say how much or how little should be done when he or she might not be able to make decisions. An advance directive can include a living will and durable power of attorney.
  • Living will: statement of an individual’s wishes with regard to medical treatment in circumstances under which the individual can no longer express consent. To print a sample document in English, click here. Para imprimir un documento de ejemplo en español, haga clic aqui.
  • Durable power of attorney: person designated to make financial and/or medical decisions on behalf of the individual.
  • Designation of a health care surrogate: person designated by an individual to make and authorize healthcare-related decisions on their behalf. To print a sample document in English, click here. Para imprimir un documento de ejemplo en español, haga clic aqui.
  • Life-sustaining procedures: medical treatments that are used to sustain life such as artificial nutrition and hydration, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and mechanical ventilation.
  • Do not resuscitate order (DNRO): Informs healthcare personnel and emergency providers that they are NOT to attempt to revive patients if their heart and/or breathing stops.
  • Physician order for life-sustaining treatment: represents a patient’s medical care preferences and is signed by a physician.

Next Step for Advance Care Planning

If you want your wishes known, start by taking the time to have conversations with your family and physician. If you need assistance in getting the conversation started, staff at Good Shepherd Hospice, HPH Hospice  and LifePath Hospice are available to help.

You are not alone—we are here to help. For additional information, please call our helpful Chapters Health team at 1.866.204.8611 or send an email to


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