“Advance directives” allow you to make decisions about your care in case you ever become unable to speak for yourself. The two most common forms of advance directives are:
- a living will
- a health care power of attorney
A living will describes your wishes for medical care. A health care power of attorney names a person who can make medical decisions for you, if you are unable.
These documents allow you the chance to state your choices for health care. You can say “yes” to treatment you want and “no” to treatment you do not want.
You should be asked if you have an advance directive:
- When you enter a Medicare or Medicaid hospital or nursing facility
- When you receive home health or hospice care from a Medicare or Medicaid provider
- When you enroll in a Medicare or Medicaid certified HIC/HMO insurance plan
Our goal is to provide information about your rights and support your decisions. The Health Plan policy states the following:
- The Health Plan must follow state laws about advance directives;
- If there is a major change in the states’ laws about advance directives, The Health Plan will inform our members;
- The Health Plan provides education about advance directives to our members, and provides education to our employees;
- The Health Plan can’t refuse care or discriminate against you based on your advance directives;
- If you believe that a doctor or hospital has not followed the instructions in your signed advance directive, you may file a complaint with the Probate Court in the county where you live.
You should give your doctor and your power of attorney (if you have one) a copy of the form.
For more information, please ask your medical provider for help. Download our Understanding Advance Directives flyer. There is more information on the state-specific forms and documents on the Caring Connections website, West Virginia Center for End-of-Life or Aging With Dignity website.
If you are receiving behavioral health services, there are resources for you to review, as well. Psychiatric advance directives can plan for the possibility that someone may become unable to give or withhold consent to treatment during acute episodes of psychiatric illness. Each state has different rules about how advance directives must be written and approved. Check with your state’s protection and advocacy program, an attorney, paralegal, or advocate to see that you have all the information you need. Remember that only attorneys can offer legal advice. View our Behavioral Health Advance Directive brochure for more information.
The following resources will help you to learn more about advanced directives for those receiving behavioral health services:
- Visit The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance website.
- Call the National Mental Health Association at 1.800.969.6643 to get a copy of the Psychiatric Advance Directive toolkit.
- The National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advance Directives has more information about your specific state and current legal news.