There are numerous legal tools to help individuals, especially seniors, who cannot make healthcare and business decisions on their own. A power of attorney is an important document that allows an authorized agent to deal with these matters. But care planning should deal with the inability of powers of attorneys to govern Medicare issues.
Powers of attorney
In Georgia, a financial power of attorney allows an authorized agent appointed by a person to make legal, financial and property decisions on their behalf. That agent, for example, can sell the person’s property to pay for medical care.
A health power of attorney allows an agent, usually a family member of trusted friend, to make significant and necessary medical decisions for a person who becomes incapacitated or unable to communicate or participate in their care. For example, the agent can make decisions for a person on a ventilator. The person must establish this power of attorney when they are competent and able to make financial and healthcare decisions.
The recent pandemic has made exercising these powers more challenging. Hospitals have prohibited visitors and family members had to rely on phone calls, virtual communications, and staff communication to share information and learn about what is happening to patients.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are at least 65, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility care, hospital care and some home heath care.
Medicare Part B pays for some doctor services, outpatient services, medial supplies ad preventive services. Part C covers prescription drug costs and many recommended shots or vaccines.
Medicare’s authorized representative
Medicare must protect a patient’s privacy and their medical information. Under the law, Medicare requires the beneficiary’s written permission to use or divulge personal or medical information that its official privacy notice prohibits from disclosure,
However, a competent person may execute a Medicare authorization form which must be mailed to Medicare. This will allow their authorized person to talk with Medicare representatives, research and select Medicare coverage and handle claims. The authorized representative is even permitted to file an appeal.
Before granting this authorization, a person should check whether Medicare would be permitted to release all or limited information. If release of limited information is selected, it should be identified by claims, eligibility, or premiums. The length of time of this authorization should be designated.
Medicare Advantage, Part D prescription drug or Medicare supplement have their own authorization forms with different names. These provide authorization to speak to plan representative concerning claims or coverage, update contact information and other matters depending on the plan.
Authorization may be revoked at any time. A personal representative may complete this form for any incapacitated individual, but an executed power of attorney must be attached.
Now may be the time to prepare and update powers of attorney, identify and select an authorized Medicare representative and complete the appropriate Medicare authorization forms. An attorney can help provide options and prepare legal documents that govern your needs.