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Public opinion regarding financial incentives to engage in advance care planning and complete advance directives

The American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine September 1, 2017

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BACKGROUND: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently instituted physician reimbursements for advance care planning (ACP) discussions with patients.

AIM: To measure public support for similar programs.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional online and in-person surveys.

SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: English-speaking adults recruited at public parks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from July to August 2013 and online through survey sampling international Web-based recruitment platform in July 2015. Participants indicated support for 6 programs designed to increase advance directive (AD) completion or ACP discussion using 5-point Likert scales. Participants also indicated how much money (US$0-US$1000) was appropriate to incentivize such behaviors, compared to smoking cessation or colonoscopy screening.

RESULTS: We recruited 883 participants: 503 online and 380 in-person. The status quo of no systematic approach to motivate AD completion was supported by 67.0% of participants (63.9%-70.1%). The most popular programs were paying patients to complete ADs (58.0%; 54.5%-61.2%) and requiring patients to complete ADs or declination forms for health insurance (54.1%; 50.8%-57.4%). Participants more commonly supported paying patients to complete ADs than paying physicians whose patients complete ADs (22.6%; 19.8%-25.4%) or paying physicians who document ACP discussions (19.1%; 16.5%-21.7%; both P < .001). Participants supported smaller payments for AD completion and ACP than for obtaining screening colonoscopies or stopping smoking.

CONCLUSIONS: Americans view payments for AD completion or ACP more skeptically than for other health behaviors and prefer that such payments go to patients rather than physicians. The current CMS policy of reimbursing physicians for ACP conversations with patients was the least preferred of the programs evaluated.


National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute