Janiva Answers: Who Needs a Health Care Proxy?

Janiva Toler

Janiva Toler
Executive Director
Answers Your Questions on Healthcare

Question: Who Needs a Health Care Proxy?

Answer: Everyone should have a health care proxy (or durable power of attorney for health care – depending on the state where you reside). The health care proxy is a simple document, which allows you to name someone (an “agent”) to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make or communicate those decisions. Without a health care proxy you should not assume that family and friends would be able to speak for you in the case of an emergency. In Massachusetts, for instance, only the health care proxy agent or the state can speak for an individual unable to speak for himself.

Sources for health care proxies

  • Most states have information on advance directives for health care, which includes health care proxies. A web search for “health care advance directives” and your state name should bring up a number of sites. Most of the state government sites have samples that can be downloaded.
  • The Benevolent Association provides a Massachusetts health care proxy form for patients at the BA, which is updated whenever Massachusetts state law changes. Our form includes language and options often specified by Christian Scientists. You can download it from our website, or email inquiry@chbenevolent.org or call 800-662-9937 ext. 2226.
  • The health care proxy is a legal document and an attorney will be able to assist you in preparing one.

Distribution of your executed health care proxy

  • You should make at least four photocopies. Keep the original for yourself where it can be found easily (not a safe-deposit box).
  • Give copies to care providers, your agent, and alternate agent.
  • You can also give additional copies to family members, Christian Science practitioners, lawyers, and others who may be involved in your health care decision-making.

This is a great time to prepare for 2014 by either executing a new health care proxy, or reviewing your current one to make sure the information is still relevant.

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