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Medicare to pay for end-of-life care counseling

Effective January 1, 2016, Medicare plans to pay doctors to speak to patients about their end-of-life care. The doctors will provide counseling and discuss options that range from care that’s more focused on comfort than extending life to doing whatever is possible to resuscitate a dying patient. Some doctors are already having conversations about this topic with their patients but are not billing for it.

Medicare payment will ensure that more doctors will have these conversations which many feel are critical to high-quality care.

The Institute of Medicine issued a report last year which found that few people make their wishes known so many deaths “are filled with breathing machines, feeding tubes, powerful drugs and other treatments that fail to extend life and make its final chapter more painful and unpleasant.” The report, “Dying in America” is free as a PDF or can be paid for and ordered as a bound volume.

While most people have given thought to how they would like to die, many have found it difficult to communicate those views and choices to family and loved ones and, in many cases, family and loved ones have their own perceptions and views about death that can influence discussions about dying.  Most people envision their own death as a peaceful and an ideally rapid transition. However, with the exception of accidents or trauma or of a few illnesses that almost invariably result in death weeks or months after diagnosis, death usually comes at the end of a chronic illness or the frailty accompanying old age. Even though death is very much part of the cycle of life, thinking and talking about one’s own death usually remains in the background, at least until its prospect become more probable or imminent.

Thru the new Medicare offering doctors will be able to discuss with their patients how they would like to die, and to encourage them to put their wishes on paper and share those wishes with their family.

Bitcoins – Is cybercash real?

You bet it is. In fact, the Australian government recently announced that pension applicants must declare their cyber currency such as Bitcoin. “By including Bitcoin and other digital currencies on one of its standard forms”, the Australian government is recognizing that these are definitely a form of wealth. Many countries are still wrestling with where digital currency fits but Australia has accepted it as part of mainstream finance.  If you have cybercash, make sure you are considering it in your estate planning and are not letting it get lost in the confusion about what to do with digital assets. It’s real money and you should treat it as such.
For more information about estate planning, go to www.diesmart.com.

One week to be aware of – National Estate Planning Awareness Week

The week of October 21st is National Estate Planning Awareness Week.  It’s a good time to think about what you want to have happen to your estate when you die.   It really all boils down to how you’ve titled your property and who actually owns what.

There’s a really good article by Julie Garber  that sums it up and gives you specifics to think about.  Read it, decide what you want to do and get started.  You never know what the future will bring and it’s best to be prepared.

For more estate planning information, go to www.diesmart.com.

 

 

 

 

New California Law Enhances Veteran Death Benefits

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law SB 469 last weekend.  It’s a bill that will enable family members of qualified veterans to ensure a proper burial for their loved ones.  Spearheaded by state senator Sam Aanestad, it will allow the California Department of Veterans Affairs to waive the required $500 charged for burial at any veterans cemeteries run by the state when family members cannot afford to pay it.

According to Bill Baird, the senator’s press secretary, the legislation was drafted after the governor became aware that some dependents of honorably discharged veterans were turned away from the Northern California Veterans Cemetery because their relatives could not pay the fee.

Funding for the measure will be covered by private donations.

Cadavers: Where do they come from?

Anyone watching Brothers and Sisters last Sunday saw Justin Walker getting ready to cut open a cadaver as part of his medical school training. Where did that cadaver come from? How did it get to a medical school?

A brief history of cadavers

Medical schools have used cadavers for training for more than 200 years. Over this period of time, the methods of acquiring and preserving them have changed. Criminals who were executed for their crimes were used as the first cadavers since Christians believed that the souls of dissected bodies could not go to heaven and few offered their bodies to science. As the number of criminals being executed decreased, it became commonplace to steal bodies from graves in order to keep the market supplied.

The tradition of dissecting criminals continued into the eighteenth and nineteenth century when anatomy schools became popular in England and Scotland. The only cadavers available were criminals’, and anatomists were portrayed as no better than an executioner.
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