As you or a loved one gets older, you realize how expensive health care can really be. It gets to be a handful with all the different forms to fill out and people that you need to speak on your behalf when it comes to medical decisions. Taking the time to meet with an elder law attorney to go over your health care proxy form and the questions you have will help ease the process.

What is a Health Care Proxy?

A health care proxy is a document that allows you to appoint someone else to act as your agent to make medical decisions. This will guarantee that your medical treatment instructions will be carried out. It is so important to have a health care proxy if you and your family often disagree on medical treatment. If you don’t have a health care proxy, then your doctor might require you to have medical treatment that you would have refused if you were able to do so.

What is a Health Care Agent?

A healthcare agent is the person who chooses the right path of treatment for your health. This document gives one person the right to decide what needs to happen in the event of a medical emergency. Generally, a healthcare agent is the same person you appoint as your power of attorney, and the reason for that is to avoid conflicts. A healthcare agent has the power to,

  • Decide the best medical care, including medical tests, medicine, or surgery.
  • Request or decline life-support treatments.
  • Authorize or refuse certain medication or procedures.
  • Choices about where the person will receive medical treatment.
  • Take legal action on for loved ones behalf in order to advocate for his or her health care rights and wishes.
  • Apply for Medicare, Medicaid, or other programs or insurance benefits on the person’s behalf.

Who’s Best for the Job?

Choosing the person to fulfill your wishes when it comes to medical treatment when you’re incapacitated can be a very difficult task. Weigh all of your options heavily, along with considering having the same person as your power of attorney. In the end, the person who makes all of the decisions is the one with the money. If there is a disagreement between the two people, it will cause more issues and can drain all of your assets due to court expenses.

Now that I have broken down the difference between a health care proxy and a health care agent, please take the time to read this blog, Why Do You Need a Power of Attorney, to understand the importance of having a power of attorney. If you have more questions, please contact the Law Office of Paula A. Smith and we can discuss you and your loved ones needs.