What Do I Need To Consider When Thinking About A Health Care Proxy?

Health Care Proxy-1

Choosing a health care proxy is an important decision. While any competent adult can technically be your health care proxy, you should make it a point to choose the right person. Usually, people choose close friends, family members, spouses, or their adult children to be their health care proxy. In some cases, the health care proxy that people appoint could be a social worker or a lawyer.

You can choose any adult over the age of 18 years old to be your medical proxy. But the person you choose should have the capacity to act in your stead if you are no longer in a position to make your own health care decisions. Who you choose to be your proxy will depend on your own unique circumstances, but you should carefully look at your situation in life before appointing your health care proxy.

What Is A Health Care Proxy?

A health care proxy or a medical power of attorney is the person you choose to make your health care decisions for you when you can no longer make your own health care decisions. If you are incapacitated – either temporarily or for a longer period of time – then your health care proxy will make your medical decisions. If you are temporarily incapacitated – either undergoing treatment for an accident or under anesthesia for surgery – then your health care proxy will have the authority to make your treatment decisions only for the time period where you are unable to do so yourself.

You can choose any competent adult to be your health care proxy. To appoint one, you will need to fill out health care proxy forms and have them notarized.

Who Needs A Health Care Proxy?

It is advisable that people who have a low life expectancy, because of being elderly or suffering from a terminal illness, appoint a health care proxy when they are still of sound mind. Appointing a health care proxy is a crucial part of end-of-life planning. If you have certain requirements regarding DNR (do not resuscitate), life-support, or life-sustaining treatments such as the use of feeding tubes or artificial hydration – then a health care proxy can see to it that your health care wishes are being met.

Even healthy adults can consider appointing a health care proxy in case something unexpected happens to them. If you have strong opinions regarding your medical treatment, then appointing a health care proxy is essential for you. In case you were to suddenly become incapacitated, because of an accident or a surgery that goes wrong, then your health care provider and your doctors will use every life-sustaining treatment at their disposal to keep you alive.

If you have no desire to be resuscitated or be kept alive on life-support, then your medical proxy can make that choice in your stead. You have the right to refuse a medical treatment that does not align with your beliefs, and your health care proxy will have the authority to do the same if you are indisposed.

What Do I Need To Consider When Thinking About My Health Care Proxy?

Your health care proxy is responsible for your treatment decisions, which is why you should choose the right person – someone trustworthy and reliable. Most people choose their health care proxy from their loved ones, while others prefer a lawyer or an organization to act in their stead. The ideal health care proxy for you will depend on your own unique circumstances. Before you choose a health care proxy, you should understand some of their responsibilities
  • Conferring with your health care provider and going over your medical information or medical records.
  • Asking pertinent questions about your health and medical care.
  • Making treatment decisions including what drugs to administer.
  • Deciding which health facility and which medical provider treats you.
  • Consenting to or rejecting tests or treatments on your behalf.
  • Making decisions regarding life-sustaining treatments (artificial hydration, artificial nutrition, and use of feeding tubes).
  • Deciding whether to resuscitate you, keep you on life-support, or remove you from it.
Your health care proxy will have an important role to play if you are incapacitated. To make your medical decisions for you, they should know about your feelings and beliefs regarding the following matters:
  • Your thoughts about health, illness, and dying.
  • Your preferences for medical treatments including life-sustaining treatments (dialysis, use of feeding tubes, and artificial hydration), end-of-life care or palliative care, and life-prolonging measures (life-support, resuscitation, and ventilators).
  • Your preferences when it comes to health care providers, caregivers, health care facilities, and residential institutions such as nursing homes.
  • Your religious beliefs or any other personal beliefs that may influence your medical treatment.

Along with discussing your preferences for medical treatment with your health care proxy, you may also create an advance directive or a living will. Your health care proxy can refer to your directive when they have to make a medical decision for you.


Q: Can I appoint more than one health care proxy?ar

A: Yes, you may name another person as your backup health care agent in your health care proxy documents. If your health care proxy can no longer continue with their duties, then your alternative proxy can act in your stead.

Q: I do not have a health care proxy. What happens when I become incapacitated?ar

A: If you become incapacitated and you neither have a health care proxy nor a living will, then your state laws will decide who will be making your medical decisions for you.

Q: Can I revoke a health care proxy?

A: Yes, as long as you are of sound mind, you can revoke your health care proxy and appoint someone else.  You will need to fill out a new form for a new health care proxy.

Q: Will my health care proxy be responsible for health insurance and insurance settlements?

A: No, your health care proxy will only be responsible for your medical decisions. Health insurance or insurance settlements are financial decisions that have to be made by your durable power of attorney. To learn more about how insurance settlements work, reach out to us at Uplife.

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