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Your legal health decisions


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What is an advance directive?

What is an advance directive?

It’s a legal document. It tells your doctors what medical care you want and don’t want. And it’s only for when you can’t speak for yourself due to an accident or illness. It’s called an “advance directive” because you make these decisions before you need care. It can include info about:


  • Whether you want to be kept alive on machines 
  • If you wish to donate your organs after you pass away  

There are two types of advance directives:


  1. Power of attorney
  2. Living will (also known as an instruction directive)


You can decide whether you want to have one of these or both.

Already have an advance directive?


We suggest you: 


  • Sign and date it
  • Keep a copy for yourself 
  • Give a copy to your health care surrogate
  • Give a copy to all your providers 
  • Take a copy with you if you go to the hospital or emergency room 
  • Keep a copy in your car (if you have one) 

What is a power of attorney?


It’s a document you use to choose your health care surrogate. This is the person who’ll make health care decisions for you if you’re unable to make them yourself. They’ll speak for you based on what you want done or what’s in your best interests. This goes into effect whether you’re unable to make health care decisions for the short term or the long term.


You can name almost anyone you want to be your health care surrogate. You decide how much power your surrogate will have to make these decisions. You can also decide when this goes into effect. It can be right away. Or only after a doctor says you’re unable to decide for yourself.  

What is a living will? 


A living will (or an instruction directive) is another type of advance directive. It lists your wishes for medical treatment if you’re very ill and may not recover, or you can’t speak for yourself. It tells your doctors what treatment you do or don’t want. This could include treatment or care that would keep you alive when there’s no chance of recovery.

Talk with your provider

Talk with your provider

You can talk with your provider if you need help or have questions. We’ll help you find a provider that will follow your advance directive. If they don’t follow it, you can file a complaint.


Learn more about complaints and appeals

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