Being Prepared When The End Is Near

No one likes to talk about the end of life and death. It is scary, confusing and emotionally tough. I have blogged before about the conversations I have had with my mom about her wishes for the end of her life. She has been very clear about her hopes and what she would like me to do to carry them out. It is surreal to think that we have had these intensely pragmatic conversations, anticipating the end at some point, never knowing when it will occur.

It wasn’t what she had hoped for or wished for, but as she says, “It is what it is.” And so we are muddling through.

Like many elderly people, at 85 she fell and broke a bone. She went from being a relatively active woman, who three short months ago was living on her own, doing her own housekeeping chores and shopping for herself, to a woman who is unable to sit up, let alone stand. She has lost about everything but her sense of humor.

Our conversations in the past have made this transition so much less painful, chaotic and confusing. She has a living will, an advanced directive and clear instructions for me. We’ve already had the tough conversations. This has made the time we have together more precious and more meaningful, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

I have left no stone unturned in all the things I wanted my mom to know before she passes. Not one.

What a gift she has given me and our family by having the courage to plan ahead for this time. While those conversations were not easy then, they have saved us the chaos of having them now when it’s so emotional.

I’ve received the doctor’s call saying it was time for mom to consider hospice. It is quite therapeutic that I am jotting this down now, but it is also equally important to me to share with others what a gift her courage and planning has been.

So have the tough talks, plan accordingly and give your loved ones the gift of more beautiful conversations near the end.

By Dr. Joann Schaefer, BCBSNE executive vice president

HEALTH INSURANCE TERMS


COINSURANCE

The percentage of the bill you pay after your deductible has been met.

COPAY

A fixed amount you pay when you get a covered health service.

Tiered benefit plan

A health care plan featuring multiple levels of benefits based on the network status of a particular provider. 

DEDUCTIBLE

The annual amount you pay for covered health services before your insurance begins to pay.

emergency care services

Any covered services received in a hospital emergency room setting.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDER SERVICES

Includes behavioral health treatment, counseling, and psychotherapy


in-network provider

A provider contracted by your insurance company to accept an agreed upon payment for covered services. 

OUT-OF-network provider

A term for providers that aren’t contracting with your insurance company. (Your out-of-pocket costs will tend to be more expensive if you go to an out-of-network provider.)

out-of-pocket

Your expenses for medical care that aren’t reimbursed by insurance, including deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments.

penalty

If you can afford health insurance, but choose not to buy it, you must have a health coverage exemption or pay a tax penalty on your federal income tax return.

premium

The amount you pay to your health insurance company each month. 


Preventive services

Health care services that focus on the prevention of disease and health maintenance.

rehab SERVICES

Services and devices to help you recover if you are injured or have surgery. This includes physical, occupational and speech therapy.

special enrollment period

The time after the Open Enrollment Period when you can still purchase health insurance only if you have a qualifying life event (losing other health coverage, having a baby, getting married, moving).

specialist

A physician who has a majority of his or her practice in fields other than internal or general medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics or family practice.