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Blue Cross Encouraging End-of-Life Conversations

As of January 1, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has expanded end-of-life benefits for its 2.8 million members to cover more patient-provider conversations and to launch a home care program.

The new initiative takes into account the growing number of Americans who prefer to die at home, surrounded by loved ones and free from invasive medical treatments. In addition to being more preferable, hospice and home care may actually be less expensive as well. Blue Cross aims to start conversations early about their members’ end-of-life wishes, to the point of covering counseling sessions, even for those who are not yet sick.

Andrew Dreyfus, chief executive of Blue Cross, feels personally invested in these changes after watching his parents and 61-year-old brother die from terminal illnesses. He recounts his experiences in a personal essay recently published in the Globe.

Others are following suit, with Medicare beginning this year to cover the cost of end-of-life discussions. Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston has revised its electronic health records system to help emergency doctors retrieve information about patients’ end-of-life wishes.

Source: Boston Globe. Blue Cross expands benefits for end-of-life care.