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Network Matters
News and Information for the
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Network

March 2017

National Healthcare Decisions Day Emphasizes Advance Care Planning


Advance care planning is a crucial step to ensure that patients get the medical care they want when they are unable to speak for themselves due to illness or injury. In recognition of this, National Healthcare Decisions Day was founded in 2008 to educate and empower the public and providers regarding the importance of advance care planning. This year, National Healthcare Decisions Day will be a weeklong event, taking place from April 16 to April 22, and the theme is “It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late.”

The annual event is a nationwide initiative focused on providing clear, concise, and consistent information on health care decision-making to both the public and providers/facilities. It entails independent, coordinated state and local events supported by a national media and public information campaign. Harvard Pilgrim encourages providers to take part in National Healthcare Decisions Day, to engage members about their health, and to take advantage of the following covered services for advance care planning:

  • 99497 — Advance care planning including the explanation and discussion of advance directives such as standard forms (with completion of such forms, when performed), by the physician or other qualified health care professional; first 30 minutes, face-to-face with the patient, family member(s), and/or surrogate
  • 99498 — Advance care planning including the explanation and discussion of advance directives such as standard forms (with completion of such forms, when performed), by the physician or other qualified health care professional; each additional 30 minutes (List separately in addition to code for primary procedure)

Early and frequent conversations among providers, patients, and families about their preferences for end-of-life care can provide the patient with peace of mind that his or her medical wishes will be followed, ease the burden on family members, and prevent unwanted treatment. While clinical research has found that advance care planning can improve the quality of life for patients with serious, progressive, and potentially fatal conditions, patients rarely initiate these conversations with their doctors and family members. As a result, it’s important for physicians to educate patients about advance care options, such as hospice or palliative care; discuss their preferences with them; and encourage them to prepare an advance directive.

For more information regarding Harvard Pilgrim’s advance care planning coverage and reimbursement, refer to our Evaluation and Management Payment Policy. Visit the National Healthcare Decisions Day website for details on the vision and goals of the initiative, helpful resources, suggestions for how providers can take part in National Healthcare Decisions Day, and a list of participating organizations around the country.

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President and Chief Executive Officer

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Vice President, Network Services

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Production Coordinator