8 in 10 people in the U.S. say that Medicare as well as private health insurance plans should pay for discussions held between patients and doctors about hatlhcare at the end-of-life.

The September 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll asks people their opinions about talking end-of-life with their doctors. The vast majority of people support the concept and physicians being paid for holding such conversations in doctor-patient relationship.

The question is germane because the Obama Administration has announced plans to pay doctors for office visits to discuss end-of-life (EOL) issues with Medicare patients.

There isn’t a huge variation across age cohorts: 8 to 9 in 10 younger people, 18-29, believe health insurance (Medicare and private insurance, respectively) should pay for the EOL conversations. 8 in 10 people over 29 believe that both Medicare and private plans should pay for EOL discussions.

Only 17% of people have had this kind of talk with a health care provider. But one-third of people say they have participated in a discussion with a doctor about another family member’s wishes about care at the end of life — with a high of 46% of people ages 50-64. Across all age groups, 50% of people say they’d want to discuss this on their own behalf with their doctors themselves.

imageThe majority of people, 93%, say they’d be comfortable talking about their own end-of-life desires with their partner or spouse, followed by talking with a doctor or health care provider (84%), their children (74%), close friends (77%), their parents (76%), and religions advisors (priests, minister, or other spiritual representatives, at 71%).

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Think of this as the ultimate consumer-directed healthcare: talking about and creating plans for one’s end-of-life and eventual death scenario. It’s the ultimate in shared-decision making and even wellness, in the extreme.

That consumers see this conversation as part of their life-flow, and not an extraneous activity unrelated to their health, shows that people are connecting the dots between their healthcare provider and potential EOL treatments that they see as too heroic, intrusive or technological for their own values and desires.

That doctors and health providers rank high, just under mates and higher on the roster than children, also demonstrates peoples’ high trust in their physicians.