Choosing Your Health Care Agent

In keeping with this week’s theme of health related issues, we will close with a discussion of what is arguably the most important part of your health care planning; the role of health care agent.

Cicero said “In nothing do men more nearly approach the Gods than in giving health to men,” a quote which underlines the important role of anyone involved in your health care, whether it be a doctor or an agent. A health care agent is the person who makes medical treatment decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. And if you don’t make the difficult decision of whether or not to continue your life with artificial means, the agent would have to make that decision as well. You certainly want to have someone in this role who is close to you, someone you can trust, but that is not the only criteria you may want to think about. You’ll want to make sure your agent is also someone who will act as your healthcare advocate — i.e., ask smart questions, work thoughtfully with your doctor, and take an active role in making sure that your wishes are followed. The role of health care agent can be very “close to the gods” indeed, and should be taken seriously as such.

If you have a vague idea of what a health care agent is and does, but aren’t quite confident in the fact, the California Office of the Attorney General has provided this informative article on the subject, which addresses not only the definition of health care agent, but also includes helpful tips on how to choose the best person for the job, as well as important things to keep in mind if you are the person who is acting as agent for someone else.