Be Cautious of Generic Health Care Proxy Forms

July 30, 2009
Hospitals often give patients a health care proxy form to sign on being admitted. While signing a generic health care proxy form is better than not signing one at all, these documents vary in the amount of care that has gone into their drafting, and having one that is specifically tailored to your needs can be important.
A health care proxy allows you to appoint someone else to act as your agent for medical decisions. In general, a health care proxy takes effect only when you require medical treatment and a physician determines that you are unable to communicate your wishes concerning what that treatment should be. Appointing someone to serve as your agent helps ensure that your medical treatment instructions will be carried out.
While a health care proxy serves to appoint an agent to speak for you, you can also use it to give the agent guidance about your medical wishes. Following are some issues that can be addressed in a health care proxy:
The name of the person authorized to act for you. It is good to appoint an alternate as well.
If you are terminally ill, in a coma, or have brain damage with no hope of recovery, you can explain the kind of treatment you don’t want. For example, do you want feeding tubes, resuscitation, dialysis, or blood transfusions?
Whether or not you want to be kept alive by machines if you are in a persistent vegetative state.
Under what circumstances you want pain medication to be administered.
Whether you want to donate your organs.
Whether you want to be cremated or buried and where and how your remains should be disposed of.
Whatever choices you make, you should take time to consider your health care wishes before signing a health care proxy. For this reason, signing a generic hospital form may not a good idea, as many of these forms will not take your individual wishes into account. However, this is not true for all forms used by hospitals. For example, hospitals and other health care facilities in Massachusetts use an excellent proxy form that was developed by a interdisciplinary committee that included Chatham, Mass., ElderLawAnswers member Russell E. Haddleton.
Also bear in mind that if you already have a health care proxy as a part of your estate plan, the generic form will revoke your more personal health care proxy.
A qualified attorney can help you create a document that addresses your particular situation.
For more information on health care decisions, click here.

Hospitals often give patients a health care proxy form to sign on being admitted. While signing a generic health care proxy form is better than not signing one at all, these documents vary in the amount of care that has gone into their drafting, and having one that is specifically tailored to your needs can be important.

A health care proxy allows you to appoint someone else to act as your agent for medical decisions. In general, a health care proxy takes effect only when you require medical treatment and a physician determines that you are unable to communicate your wishes concerning what that treatment should be. Appointing someone to serve as your agent helps ensure that your medical treatment instructions will be carried out.

While a health care proxy serves to appoint an agent to speak for you, you can also use it to give the agent guidance about your medical wishes. Following are some issues that can be addressed in a health care proxy:

  • The name of the person authorized to act for you. It is good to appoint an alternate as well.
  • If you are terminally ill, in a coma, or have brain damage with no hope of recovery, you can explain the kind of treatment you don’t want. For example, do you want feeding tubes, resuscitation, dialysis, or blood transfusions?
  • Whether or not you want to be kept alive by machines if you are in a persistent vegetative state.
  • Under what circumstances you want pain medication to be administered.
  • Whether you want to donate your organs.
  • Whether you want to be cremated or buried and where and how your remains should be disposed of.

Whatever choices you make, you should take time to consider your health care wishes before signing a health care proxy. For this reason, signing a generic hospital form may not a good idea, as many of these forms will not take your individual wishes into account. However, this is not true for all forms used by hospitals. For example, hospitals and other health care facilities in Massachusetts use an excellent proxy form that was developed by a interdisciplinary committee that included Chatham, Mass., ElderLawAnswers member Russell E. Haddleton.

Also bear in mind that if you already have a health care proxy as a part of your estate plan, the generic form will revoke your more personal health care proxy.

A qualified attorney can help you create a document that addresses your particular situation.  Please email the Elder Law Center or call 630-844-0065. The Elder Law Center is located in Aurora, IL, Kane County, in the Chicago Western Suburbs.

For more information on health care decisions, click here.

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2009 Long-Term Care Insurance Prices Rise Slightly, Range Widely

July 16, 2009

 

A 55-year-old individual considering a basic level of long-term care insurance protection — a $100 daily benefit and three years of coverage — can expect to pay $723 a year if married or $1,060 if single, according to the 2009 Long-Term Care Insurance Price Index, an annual report from the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, an industry group.

A 65-year-old purchasing comparable coverage will pay $1,364 (married) or $2,028 (single) according to the report. Costs for coverage increased about 2 percent over those reported in 2008.

“For some age bands the cost of long-term care insurance actually declined,” notes Jesse Slome, the association’s executive director. “What we did see is a far wider range of prices between insurers offering basically the same coverage.” According to the Association study, costs can vary by as much as 100 percent. “This could reflect different benefits or simply the individual insurer’s pricing assumptions,” Slome explains. “Consumers should compare policies or work with a knowledgeable insurance professional who can analyze for them.”

The cost for long-term care insurance is closely tied to interest rates, which dictate how much insurers can earn on the premiums they invest. Slome told ElderLawAnswers that “for every one percent drop in interest rates, an insurance company needs a 10 to 15 percent premium increase.” Interest rates have declined in recent years.

The annual index measures current costs for top-selling long-term care insurance policies that offer consumers approximately $115,000 in current benefits (base-level coverage), with protection increasing yearly as the individual ages. The study compares costs for plans that provide benefits for three years or longer and also offer an inflation option that increases the available insurance benefits by five percent compounded each year. “A solid base plan of protection will grow in value to over $305,000 of protection 20 years from now,” Slome explains.

Below is the 2009 price index:

2009 National LTCi Price Index

Average price for a comprehensive long-term care insurance policy (100 percent home care benefit + skilled care coverage) 90-Day Elimination Period with 5 percent Compound Inflation Protection Option

Age 55
$100 Maximum Daily Benefit x 3 Year Benefit Period Cost: $723 per year. Individual Qualifies for Preferred Health and Spousal Discounts 2008 Cost: $709 per year (2% increase)

Age 55
$100 Maximum Daily Benefit x 3 Year Benefit PeriodCost: $1,060 per year. Individual is single (preferred health discount)

2008 Cost: $1,095 per year (3% decrease)

Age 55
$150 Maximum Daily Benefit x 3 Year Benefit PeriodCost: $1,084 per year. Individual Qualifies for Preferred Health and Spousal Discounts

2008 Cost: $1,064 per year (2% decrease)

Age 55
$150 Maximum Daily Benefit x 3 Year Benefit PeriodCost: $1,590 per year. Individual is single (preferred health discount)

2008 Cost: $1,578 per year (less than 1% increase)

Age 65
$100 Maximum Daily Benefit x 3 Year Benefit PeriodCost: $1,364 per year. Individual Qualifies for Spousal Discounts (standard health)

2008 Cost: $1,342 per year (1% increase)

Age 65
$100 Maximum Daily Benefit x 3 Year Benefit PeriodCost: $2,028 per year. Individual is single (standard health) 2008 Cost: $1,999 per year (1% increase)

Age 65
$150 Maximum Daily Benefit x 3 Year Benefit PeriodCost: $2,047 per year. Individual Qualifies for Spousal Discounts (standard health)

2008 Cost: $2,013 per year (2% increase)

Age 65
$150 Maximum Daily Benefit x 3 Year Benefit PeriodCost: $3,042 per year. Individual is single (standard health)

2008 Cost: $2,998 per year (1% increase)

Age 65
$240 Maximum Daily Benefit x 3 Year Benefit PeriodCost: $3,274 per year. Individual Qualifies for Spousal Discounts (standard health)

2008 Cost: $3,221 per year (2% increase)

Age 65
$240 Maximum Daily Benefit x 3 Year Benefit PeriodCost: $4,867 per year. Individual is single (standard health)

2008 Cost: $4,729 per year (3% increase)

To discuss Elder Law matters with an attorney, please email the Elder Law Center or call 630-844-0065. The Elder Law Center is located in Aurora, IL, Kane County, in the Chicago Western Suburbs.