What Do I Need besides a Massachusetts Health Care Proxy?

A power of attorney (POA) is a powerful thing. A financial power of attorney document allows an appointed person to make financial, legal and property decisions on another individual’s behalf.

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Massachusetts health care proxy

A Massachusetts Health Care Proxy is a document lets a trusted family member or friend serve as your agent to make important and necessary healthcare decisions, if you become incapacitated or unable to communicate or participate in care.  Massachusetts General Laws c. 201D describes these documents in great detail.  They are often combined with other documents such as a HIPAA authorization for the release of medical information, MOLST forms [Medical orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment] and living wills.

In some states, Health Care Proxies are slightly different in their legal effect, and they may carry different names such as “Medical Powers of Attorney” or “Advanced Medical Directives”.  Forbes’s recent article entitled “For Medicare, Having A Power Of Attorney Is Not Enough” explains that during any life-threatening event, this is important.  Compounding this would be threats such as COVID-19, where the risk for severe illness from this disease increases with age, and hospitals aren’t permitting visitors. This lack of access can create some major challenges in managing a family, dealing with critical business issues and paying bills.

A Massachusetts Health Care Proxy does not stand alone when it comes to dealing with Medicare issues. Medicare requires a beneficiary’s written permission to use or provide personal medical information for any purpose not defined in the privacy notice contained in the Medicare & You handbook. A competent person can complete the form, call the “1-800-MEDICARE Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information.” When needed, the representative is then authorized to talk with Medicare, research and choose Medicare coverage, handle claims and file an appeal.

Make sure that you’ve authorized Medicare to release information to family or an agent. You should also see if the authorization applies for a specified period of time or indefinitely. You must mail the completed form to Medicare. You can revoke this authorization at any time. For those who are no longer able to give consent, their personal representative can complete the form and attach a duly executed power of attorney.  Take the additional step of sharing a copy of the health care proxy with your primary care physician as well as your loved ones.

There’s another authorization to address. It concerns individual Medicare plans – Medicare Advantage, Part D prescription drug, or Medicare supplement. Every plan has an authorization form that gives the authority to speak to plan representatives about claims or coverage, update contact information and more, depending on the individual plan.

To begin this process, check the plan’s member information or talk to a customer service representative.

You never know what’s in the future, so take the time now to prepare. You should take these three important steps.

  1. Establish or update your health care proxy, HIPAA authorizations, as well as documents to empower loved ones to make financial decisions like powers of attorney;
  2. Identify and name an authorized Medicare representative; and
  3. Contact your Medicare plan(s) and fill out the authorization forms.

Reference: Forbes (August 4, 2020) “For Medicare, Having A Power Of Attorney Is Not Enough”

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