If Not You, Who? Emergency Planning for New Graduates
Congratulations, graduate! What a time of fabulous change (and ok, maybe a bit of future-is-now anxiety, too.) Whether you’re already hustling for rent money or getting ready to move across the country, now is a great time to get some basic ‘adulting’ done. Like planning for an emergency.
A good emergency plan will answer the question “If not you, then who?”
Who’s going to fix you up?
If you’re healthy and ready to get your post-grad life going, it may not yet have occurred to you to find a doctor near your (possibly new) home. Trust me, it’s far less hassle to find a doctor when you don’t need one than when you do. At a minimum, see if your insurance plan has a mobile app so you can easily find out what your plan covers and search for in-network providers.
It may help in non-emergency situations, too. More insurance plans are offering telehealth services. If available, you can connect with a doctor for a virtual visit, saving you time when seeking treatment for minor issues.
Who’s got your back in a medical emergency?
You may not always feel like an adult but in the eyes of the law — and our entire healthcare system — you totally are. That means you need to tell ‘the law’ (and the medical team caring for you in case of an emergency) who has your permission to access your health information and find out how you’re doing if you’re in the hospital or being treated by a doctor.
You also need to formally (legally) give someone the authority to speak for you in case you can’t. This is done with a Healthcare Power of Attorney and other advance care planning documents. (See my Advance Care Planning Cheat Sheet for more information and a glossary.)
Who’s going to keep things rolling?
If you’re sidelined by an accident, a surgery, or something horrible, someone else is going to need to help you keep your life in motion while you recover. They’ll need your permission to access your accounts (and pay your bills, for example.) This permission is granted by a Power of Attorney document. Your bank may also need some additional documents signed, so be proactive and find out what they require.
If you don’t want to give access unless there’s a strong need for it, that’s fine. You can specify that the document only grants authority when a doctor says you’re not able to manage on your own. (This is called a “springing” Power of Attorney.)
Answering these three questions is critical but not enough (sorry, your ‘homework’ isn’t finished yet!) Your delegates will need a ‘map’ of your world in order to navigate it properly.
Your healthcare proxy (the person you named in your Healthcare Power of Attorney document) will need to know some basic but important information about you:
- Insurance plan information
- Medication information (see here for a free printable medication list)
- Allergy and drug sensitivities information
- Your doctor’s contact information
- Your pharmacy’s contact information
- Contact information for your employer or business partners
- Who your power of attorney agent is, so they can collaborate
- Optionally, your phone access code (to access your calendar and contacts)
They will also need to know the most important thing about you: what quality of life means to you, and how you want to be treated if you are in critical condition. Deep stuff.
Your attorney in fact (the person named in your Power of Attorney document) will also need information, like:
- What financial obligations you have (and how you typically pay your bills)
- How to access your accounts (use a password manager!)
- How to access your home and care for your pet(s), if applicable
- Who your healthcare power of attorney is, so they can collaborate
- How to move your car, if necessary
- Where you keep your important documents
Now, write it all down somewhere, and share it. File it under “Boring, but Important”. Then go enjoy your summer!
About the Author
Karen Purze is the author of Life In Motion: A Guide for Gathering Life’s Vital Details, a workbook to help people get their affairs in order. She blogs about end-of-life and emergency planning at lifeinmotionguide.com.