As reported in the New York Times, federal rules taking effect in January authorize separate Medicare payment rates for doctors’ end-of-life consultations with patients. The rules cover “advance care planning” to discuss options for end-of-life care (such as discussing whether the patient would welcome aggressive life-sustaining treatment). These discussions must occur “at the discretion of the beneficiary.”
More information on the new rule is available on the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website. For example, the Kaiser website explains that, prior to the new rule taking effect, Medicare would reimburse for advance care planning only if it occurred during (1) an appointment for another illness or (2) a beneficiary’s one-time “Welcome to Medicare” visit. The new rule instead allows for reimbursement even if the advance care planning is the sole purpose of the visit.
The Kaiser website also has information on related topics, such as advance directives, palliative care, and Medicare coverage for hospice care.