State Health Insurance Company Now Paying Doctors For End-Of-Life Discussions

WPS Health Insurance Joins Other Public, Private Insurers Across U.S.

Alex Proimos (CC-BY-NC)

A Wisconsin health insurance company is starting to pay doctors who have end-of-life conversations with patients.

Paying doctors to talk about end-of-life issues with patients was first proposed in 2009. The idea initially fell flat: It got pummeled during political debate over the Affordable Care Act.

Six years later, and it’s now gaining ground. Private insurers like WPS Health Insurance in Monona see end-of-life conversations as both a worthwhile business and medical decision.

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Dr. Michael Ostrov, medical director at WPS, said it will help families and patients with “getting the care they’re asking for, and making sure that they’re not getting excessive care that they didn’t want anyways.”

Coverage for end-of-life conversations is being offered to about 30,000 customers of WPS Health Insurance and its subsidiary, Arise Health Plan. The coverage would include a 30-minute counseling session and up to two additional sessions, which could be done by a doctor, nurse, physician assistant or social worker — anyone trained in advance care planning conversations.

Ostrov said the coverage will be broad, but that the age group they’re focusing on is 50 and older.

The Wisconsin Medical Society has been urging health providers to do advance care planning through its Honoring Choices program. It helps people understand their health are treatment options, and communicate their wishes to family and their doctor.

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