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How Marriage Impacts Health Care Decisions and Rights in Illinois

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How Marriage Impacts Health Care Decisions and Rights in Illinois
Published
February 14, 2024
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dpinkston@pinkstonlawgroup.com
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When two people decide to marry, they often think about the joyous times ahead, the partnership, the love, and the family they may build together. However, marriage is not only a union of hearts but also a legal contract that significantly impacts various aspects of life, including health care decisions and rights. At Pinkston Law Group, P.C., we understand the importance of being informed about how these changes can affect you and your loved ones, especially in Illinois. This guide will explore the impact of marriage on healthcare decisions, medical directives, and insurance, offering insights and a call to action for those navigating these vital considerations.

Healthcare Decisions and Rights

Marriage bestows spouses the right to make health care decisions for each other in situations where one spouse cannot make decisions due to incapacity or other health-related issues. In Illinois, this is a significant power, often coming into play during critical and emotional times. It means that if your spouse is unable to express their wishes regarding their health care, you, as the legal spouse, are typically the default decision-maker, unless other directives are in place, like a living will or health care power of attorney.

Medical Directives in Illinois

Illinois law recognizes the importance of individuals controlling their healthcare decisions through advance directives. These legal documents allow you to outline your preferences for medical treatment and appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so. The main types of advance directives in Illinois include:

  • Health Care Power of Attorney: Allows you to appoint an agent (often your spouse) to make health care decisions if you’re incapacitated.
  • Living Will: Let you state your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining treatments if you’re terminally ill and unable to communicate.
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)/Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST): Directs health care providers about CPR and other life-sustaining treatments in critical situations.

While marriage automatically grants your spouse certain rights to make decisions on your behalf, having these directives in place ensures your specific wishes are known and followed, providing clarity and peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Health Insurance Considerations

Marriage also impacts health insurance options and decisions. In Illinois, as in other states, you may add your spouse to your employer-provided health insurance plan, usually within a specific period after getting married. This can be a significant benefit, potentially leading to better coverage and savings on premiums. Additionally, marriage is considered a qualifying life event, allowing you to make changes to your health insurance outside the regular open enrollment period.

For couples exploring health insurance options, it’s crucial to compare plans carefully, considering factors like coverage, network of providers, premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs. In some cases, it might be more beneficial for each spouse to maintain their plans. Therefore, understanding the nuances of health insurance in the context of marriage is essential for making informed decisions.

Call to Action

Navigating the legal implications of marriage on health care decisions and rights can be complex, but you don’t have to do it alone. At Pinkston Law Group, P.C., our experienced attorneys are here to guide you through every step of the process. Whether you need assistance drafting advance directives, understanding your health care rights as a spouse, or exploring your health insurance options, we are committed to providing compassionate, knowledgeable legal support.

Marriage is a significant life event that brings many changes, including how healthcare decisions are made and the way health insurance can be accessed. Being prepared and informed about these changes is crucial. If you’re in Illinois and have questions or need legal assistance regarding these issues, contact Pinkston Law Group, P.C. today. Let us help you secure your healthcare rights and ensure your wishes are respected, providing peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

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