Advance directives help doctors know what you want

Your provider may ask if you have an advance directive. These are instructions about your medical care. They’re used when you can’t say what you want or speak for yourself due to an accident or illness.

You’ll get medical care even if you don’t have an advance directive. You have the right to make your own medical decisions. You can refuse care. Advance directives help providers know what you want when you can’t tell them.

Advance directives are important for everyone to have, no matter what your age or health condition is. They let you say what type of end-of-life care you do and don’t want for yourself.

If you have an advance directive:

  • Keep one copy of your advance directives for yourself
  • Give a copy to the person to whom you give medical power of attorney
  • Give a copy to each one of your providers
  • Take a copy with you if you have to go to the hospital or the emergency room
  • Keep a copy in your car if you have one

If you have any questions or need help, call Member Services at 1-866-827-2710, TTY 711, for help.

You can name anyone you want (except, in general, someone who works for a health care facility where you are receiving care) to be your health care agent. Some people refer to this kind of advance directive as a “durable power of attorney for health care.” Your agent will speak for you and make decisions based on what you would want done or your best interests. You decide how much power your agent will have to make health care decisions. You can also decide when you want your agent to have this power ─ right away, or only after a doctor says that you are not able to decide for yourself.

You have the right to use an advance directive to say what you want about future life-sustaining treatment issues. You can do this in Part II of the form.  If you both name a health care agent and make decisions about treatment in an advance directive, it’s important that you say whether you want your agent to be strictly bound by whatever treatment decisions you make.

Part II is a living will. It lets you decide about life-sustaining procedures in three situations: when death from a terminal condition is imminent despite the application of life-sustaining procedures; a condition of permanent unconsciousness called a persistent vegetative state; and end-stage condition, which is an advanced, progressive, and incurable condition resulting in complete physical dependency. One example of end-stage condition could be advanced Alzheimer's disease.