Healthcare Dive reports the AMA recommends that Medicare begin paying physicians for having end-of-life discussions with patients.
This will not only improve quality of care, but also help to reduce healthcare costs. Having physicians initiate end-of-life discussions leads to less depression amongst patients as well as “lower rates of ventilation, resuscitation and admission to intensive care.”
Medicare will need to determine how they will reimburse for these services. Some insurance companies already have reimbursement rates for end-of-life conversations. For example, “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan pays providers including doctors, nurses and social workers an average of $35 per conversation in person or by phone. Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield of New York reimburses doctors $150 for an hour consultation and $350 for two hours.”
As end-of-life conversations become a standard feature of patient care, physicians and medical groups will have to create protocols that ensure doctors initiate these conversations at the necessary time.
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