Katie Couric's Notebook: End of Life

Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that nothing is certain except death and taxes.

The health care reform proposal involves both of those boogey-men -two realities that Americans have never really embraced.

The plan calls for voluntary end-of-life counseling. Medicare would reimburse doctors for having that talk with patients every five years and lawmakers now have the unenviable task of explaining this doesn't mean rationing health care or deciding who lives or dies.

Experts say the government could save as much as 90 billion dollars in 10 years by preventing over-treatment for the dying. But others wonder why it's necessary to pay doctors for something they should be doing anyway and worry that when cost is connected to care, the latter will suffer.

While we do not have to go gently into that good night, there's no reason not to have a reasonable conversation with your family and doctor about the quantity of care you want and the quality of life you'll have.

That's a page from my notebook.

I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.

  • Clifden Kennedy

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