Make health care decisions in advance

Sometimes, people become unable to make health care decisions for themselves due to accidents or serious illness. You may want to prepare in advance in case this happens to you.

Know your rights

When you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself, you have the right to:

  • Ask someone such as a family member or friend to help you with decisions about your health care.
  • Give your doctors written instructions about how you want them to handle your medical care if you become unable to make decisions for yourself.
  • Decide whether you want to fill out an "advance directive" (including whether you want to sign one if you are in the hospital) to give someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions for you if you ever become unable to make decisions for yourself. According to law, no one can deny you care or discriminate against you based on whether or not you've signed an advance directive. For a complete list of your rights and responsibilities under a Priority Health Medicare plan, including your right to use advance directives, see Section 9 of your Evidence of Coverage booklet.

Using advance directives

The legal documents you can use to give your directions in advance in these situations are called "advance directives." There are different types of advance directives and different names for them. Examples include "living wills" and "power of attorney for health care."

Regardless of where you get an advance directive form or what kind it is, keep in mind that it is a legal document. Although living wills are not currently enforceable in some states, such as Michigan, they are a good way to make sure your family and your doctor understand your wishes.

1. Use a form

  • You can get a form from your lawyer, from a social worker or from some office supply stores.
  • You can sometimes get advance directive forms from organizations that give people information about Medicare, such as Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program of Michigan (MMAP)/ your SHIP (which stands for State Health Insurance Assistance Program). Section 1 of your Explanation of Benefits booklet tells how to contact Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program of Michigan (MMAP)/ your SHIP.
  • Consider having a lawyer help you prepare it.
  • Sign any form you choose to use and keep a copy at home.
  • Give a copy of the form to your doctor and another to the person you name on the form as the one to make decisions for you if you can't.
  • You may want to give copies to close friends or family members as well.

2. If you are going to the hospital

  • If you've already signed an advance directive, take a copy with you.
  • If you've not signed an advance directive and are admitted to the hospital, the hospital has forms available and will give you one to sign if you request it.

3. If you feel your directive is not being followed

If you signed an advance directive and believe that a doctor or hospital hasn't followed the instructions in it, you may file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Community Health Bureau of Health Professions Allegations Section at 517.373.9196.