News Release

What is Medicare’s Role in End-of-Life Care?

Medicare plays an integral role in end-of-life care, an issue that is emotionally-charged and easily politicized.  About three-quarters of the 2.5 million Americans who die each year are ages 65 and older, and covered by Medicare at the time of their death, yet policy issues related to Medicare and end-of-life care are often poorly understood.

As policymakers consider whether and how Medicare should pay physicians and other health care professionals for talking to Medicare beneficiaries and their families about their options and choices for end-of-life care, the Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new fact sheet that answers 10 frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about the program’s role in end-of-life care.

Questions covered include:

  • What is end-of-life care, and how does Medicare cover it?
  • What is “advance care planning,” does Medicare pay for it, and are policymakers considering changes in Medicare coverage for it?
  • Did the Affordable Care Act change how Medicare covers end-of-life care?
  • What are “advance directives,” and are health care facilities required to keep records of them?

For the complete fact sheet, 10 FAQs: Medicare’s Role in End-of-Life Care, as well as more information about Medicare, visit

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The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.