The Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was enacted to provide guidelines to the healthcare industry for protecting patient information and privacy. For minors, this is a non-issue because parents have access to their children’s medical information and are the ones making most of the medical decisions, as well as paying the expenses. The age that an individual may consent to treatment can vary, and, in Washington State, can be as young as 13 years old for certain types of treatment.
Once the individual is no longer a minor, the hospitals and doctor’s offices must safeguard the patient’s information from everyone, including the parents. While it makes sense that a legal adult would be the one in charge of his or her own medical information, this can pose some problems for young adults. Many of these young adults may are still be in high school, live at home, and have their expenses paid for by their parents. Although they are considered a legal adult, their day-to-day lives look more like that of a child.
Young adults should consider executing the required documentation to ensure their parents can access their medical records and discuss their medical care. This is accomplished through the use of a HIPAA Authorization Form. With this form, the young adult can designate any individual to be his or her Authorized Recipient of the medical information. Executing this document can be incredibly helpful if there is a question about the young adult’s care while the parent is paying the corresponding medical bill.
A properly executed HIPAA Authorization Form can also be beneficial in the event the young adult ends up in the hospital. Because hospitals do not want to be fined for violating HIPAA, most will err on the side of caution and refrain from disclosing any information to family members without the properly executed documentation. Without this exchange of information, families can feel out of control and doctors may miss important family medical information.
As a companion to the HIPAA Authorization Form, it is also important to have a Health Care Power of Attorney executed so that someone will have the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the young adult, if he or she becomes incapacitated. Without this document, the family may end up having to go to court in order to have someone appointed to make crucial medical decisions.
If you, or someone you know, is in need of a HIPAA Authorization Form, please give us a call. We are here to protect you and your family through all the major milestones in life.