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Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
If you are a foster youth or former foster youth reading this information you are probably wondering, "What is this all about?" Good question and we don't mind answering.
It is called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. It is a document (or you can call it a form) that list medical steps you want your doctor or hospitals to take if you get too sick or injured to speak for yourself. So in other words, you can't talk but you want the doctors to know what to do. Not telling them how to do a surgery but telling them if you want the surgery.
First it is a good idea to know the law that makes this all happen. It's called The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148) and it is part of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. Based on this law, a lot of changes are being made to give foster youth support and include you in a lot of decisions. Well this law takes it a step further; you make all the decisions on this one. The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is about making decisions about your health care. Probably the easiest way to talk about this is to cover the basics.
On this document you will put what you want the doctors to do for every scenario you can think of. You don't have to make up a document; you can get one from your doctor's office, a hospital and other places - we'll come back to this.
In the meantime, to get a better idea what we are talking about, click here to see an example of a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Did you look at it? Now you have more questions right? Good! We have lots of answers. Other names for a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care include Medical Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and Health Care Power of Attorney.
You! This document is for any adult that decides they want one. The difference between you and other adults is that we have a responsibility to tell you about Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and it is our pleasure. We want you to be informed and make wise decisions. If we can help with that - great!
So, you have to be 18 or older to establish a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. The other people involved are
- A Patient Advocate. This person makes sure everything listed on your form is done. You choose this person. You put their name on the form so that if something happens to you the doctor or hospital knows who to call. Your Patient Advocate has to sign the Durable Power of Attorney. That means they agree to make sure the doctors do what you have on the form. You can choose 1 or 2 patient advocates. You would choose 2 if you want to have a backup. The person you list as number 1 will be the first person called if something happens to you.
- Witnesses. You need two people to witness you establishing the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. They can be whomever you want EXCEPT a relative, the doctor or anyone who works at your doctor's office.
When will your caseworker discuss the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care with you and when do you get one? Your caseworker needs to tell you about the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care as you approach 18 years old. If you are already 18 or older it's no problem; your caseworker still needs to tell you about it. We want you to have the information as soon as you become an adult so you can make a decision if you want it.
If you don't want to get a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care it is okay. You can get it when you turn 18 years old and any time after that. There is only one time you can't get one; when you are already sick or injured and can't speak for yourself. At that point the doctor or hospital will have to make the decisions they believe are best. But wait, just so you know, you can make a relative your patient advocate through the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or you can tell a relative they can make your health decisions for you if you are sick or injured.
If you don't do a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and instead choose a relative to make the decisions, be sure someone knows. Without a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or without knowing you have given someone permission to speak for you, the doctors will have to do what they believe is best.
You can get a blank Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care from a hospital or your doctor's office. Go here for a list of Michigan hospitals. You can get one from your health care provider. Do you know what that means? Whoever you have health insurance through. Here is a brochure of the Medicaid Health Plans. It is called A Guide to Michigan Medicaid Health Plans. Do you see your health provider on there? They may have a version of a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care so you can call them and ask.
You can use any version you like but just make sure it is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. There is also a Durable Power of Attorney that has nothing to do with health so you want to be sure you see the Health Care language somewhere on the form.
How do you establish a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?
- First you get the form
- Read over it to see if it has the information on it you want on there. You can add things and cross off some things so keep that in mind.
- Next you fill it in. Think of every medical situation you would want the doctors to ask your permission on.
- Figure out who you want to be your patient advocate.
- Figure out who will be your two witnesses. Don't forget the rules.
- You sign, your patient advocate signs and your two witnesses sign
- You give a copy to your patient advocate, your doctor and you keep the original.
- Think about giving a copy to your caseworker. You don't have to but you can. Your caseworker can assist with locating your patient advocate if something does happen.
Why would you get a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care? It is a good way to advocate for yourself. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care lets you have a say in decisions being made about your health even when you can't say or do anything.
Still have questions? No problem. Contact your worker for more information. You can also look over the policy your worker follows when they try to help you understand a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Here it is . Go to the Children's Foster Care Manual and look for Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.