Advance Health Care Directives

A HIPAA Waiver: Do I Need One?

It has happened to all of us. You make a visit to the doctor’s office and while checking in, the receptionist asks you to read and sign something about HIPAA. HIPAA? You came in for fever and a sore throat, your hip feels just fine, thank you very much. So what is the receptionist talking about? HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

Getting Informed About Nursing Homes

I've recently had a number of family and friends face the ordeal of finding a nursing home for their loved one. In some cases, the family member had experienced a fall or a stroke. In other cases, a minor surgery had complications that took more time to heal than was expected, and providing care for them at home wasn't a good option. And in still other cases, the level of care and supervision required due to dementia or other health conditions had caused the family to recognize that it was simply in the best interest of their loved one to have that level of care.

As our population continues to age and our improving medical technology further lengthens our lives, these kinds of decisions will eventually be made by most of us. I wanted to make you aware of two resources that may be very helpful to you when that time arrives for you and your loved ones.

The first is the U.S. Government's Medicare online "Nursing Home Compare" guide. The following paragraph comes from the website's own description of its purpose:

Nursing Home Compare allows consumers to compare information about nursing homes. It contains quality of care information on every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country, including over 17,000 nationwide.

Big Changes, Critical Decisions: Divorce and Estate Planning.

This week, I was visiting with a client of mine who has been married more than once. The questions that this client had for me centered around whether there was anything that needed to be done in her estate planning after a divorce.

The fact is, there is a great deal that must be considered when a divorce takes place. Getting a divorce decree from the courts is only the beginning. Here are some things that should be dealt with as soon as possible after a divorce that can have a major impact on your estate planning:

1. You should carefully review your guardianship nominations for your minor children in your will or other legal documents and update them if necessary. This ensures that should something happen to you, your children will end up with the caregivers that you would prefer. Often, a divorce drastically changes your previous views on this issue.

2. Update your Health Care decision documents. In Utah, you should execute a new Advance Health Care Directive that helps you to designate whom you would want to make health care decisions for you if you were incapable of doing so. Often, these documents have not been changed after a divorce and in an emergency, and an ex-spouse is contacted about health care decisions by the doctors. This is exactly what happened in the case of Gary Coleman here in Utah. His ex-spouse was still named as the health care agent in his legal documents. Thus, she made decisions about his health care. And even though that may have been what Mr. Coleman would have wanted, it is still unclear if that was the case.

Important Medicare Information and How to Find It

On Monday, I participated in a training on the Social Security and Medicare programs hosted by the Mountainland Aging and Family Services department in Utah County. It is important for me in my profession to keep abreast of the rapid changes taking place with regard to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs that provide such important benefits to the aging population.

On an almost daily basis I run across misinformed statements about these programs and have to help my clients understand what the law really says they are entitled to. However, I have also learned that there are significant efforts being made by both the federal government, and local governments, to provide accurate information about these programs. I wanted to make you aware of at least two of these excellent resources for getting your questions answered on what can, at times, seem to be overwhelmingly complex topics.

How Will You Die?

A few days ago, my wife and I learned that a friend we went to college with is in need of a heart transplant. As any of us would be, this woman is overwhelmed at the thought of facing her own death. Unfortunately, we can be faced with end-of-life health care decisions at any age. This is why every adult should give some thought to planning for those decisions and then take the simple step of executing an advance health care directive.

This week, Governor Herbert will sign SCR2, a concurrent resolution encouraging every adult in Utah, whether they have a known serious medical condition or not, to consider preparing an advance health care directive (AHCD). The Utah AHCD form has two parts: (1) Part I allows you to appoint someone (an agent) to make medical decisions for you when you cannot make or communicate your own medical decisions (also called a Health Care or Medical Power of Attorney). (2) Part II allows you to express your preferences about health care decisions under particular circumstances and helps ensure your health care wishes will be honored (also called a Living Will).

Obama’s War On Faith?

I consider myself a person of faith.  And although I strive to be sensitive to those of other faiths (and to those who eschew faith altogether), I believe strongly that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution lies at the foundation of what makes the United States great and strong.

 
The First Amendment reads:
 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

You have likely noticed by now that the the media is all abuzz about the conflict raging between American religious leaders and the Obama Administration’s proposed policies regarding mandated health care coverage.  If you’re not yet familiar with this subject, here is a short article from Reuters news service on the issue.

I Had Lunch With The Governor Today

It's true. I did have lunch with Gov. Herbert today. It's also true that about 50 other people had lunch with him. He spoke today at the Lehi Area Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon on the economic development of Utah. I've been a member of the Chamber for about a year now and I am very excited about the growth that is coming to the State of Utah, and specifically, the growth that is coming to North Utah County. Gov. Herbert recited a litany of encouraging statistics and rankings all supporting the idea that Utah is truly one of the most economically promising states in the nation.

It's Graduation Time...Make Sure You Avoid This Mistake

It's hard to believe that another school year is ending already, and for some of you, that means your child is graduating from high school and maybe even going away to college.

It's an exciting time, but did you know that once your child turns 18, you no longer have access to their medical records or their financial information without their permission? Although your graduating senior may always be your baby, in the eyes of the law, he or she is now an adult. And the privacy laws that medical and financial institutions must abide by also apply to your 18-year-old child.

Tightropes, Snowstorms, and You

 I'm probably more attuned to this sort of thing than most people as a result of my profession, but last week a family here in Utah suffered a devastating blow when the mother of three boys was killed in a snowstorm car accident.

Unfortunately, those three boys had lost their father to cancer just a few months earlier. When the father died, the mother was left alone to care for her three boys (12, 14, and 16 years old) and undoubtedly was doing the best she could under the circumstances. In fact, the reason she was out in the snowstorm over Thanksgiving weekend was to provide for her family as an in-home health care nurse.

While the extended family of these three boys will be pulling together to do what they can to help, there exists quite a bit of uncertainty as to where the boys will go, and how the family will be able to help support the extra expense that will undoubtedly come as a result of taking these boys in.

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