Packing for College? Don’t Forget the Healthcare Proxy June 30th, 2010
“What do you mean that information is confidential? I'm her MOTHER!”
Doctors and emergency room staff get this kind of reaction all the time. And no amount of screaming will allow them to budge. HIPAA rules are HIPAA rules (read all about them here). If you have a child who recently turned 18, listen up: they should have a healthcare proxy and HIPAA forms filled out before the summer ends. Here's why:
HIPAA regulations are strict. They were designed to aggressively protect your personal medical data, and that's exactly what they do. You cannot gain access to your adult child's medical records or communicate with her doctors regarding your child's health without having these forms in place.
This is, of course, a good idea in case of an accident or other emergency. But remember that, by now, your teenager has gotten very good at keeping information from you, without considering the consequences. She may find herself battling a sexually transmitted disease (STD), pregnancy or chronic illness without your knowledge. If the situation spirals out of control, you may be left to put the puzzle pieces together on your own, calling various doctors and clinics until you get the answers you need to help your child. You cannot start that process without formal access to your child’s records.
Here are three tips for helping your child name a health care proxy and complete a HIPAA authorization form:
1. Don’t down play their importance. Use it as an opportunity to explain why the forms are important, and why she should share certain health information with you even though she is an adult. Also, assure her that just because you have been granted access, you won't be checking up on her without her knowledge. Maintain her trust and vow only to use the privilege in an emergency.
2. If your child is heading out-of-state for college, it's a good idea to have an additional healthcare proxy named in that state as well. That will help ensure that someone geographically close to your child has access to the medical information, just in case.
3. Make sure that your child's primary care physician or campus clinic is given a copy of the forms to put on file.
An Pennsylvania HIPAA authorization form and Pennsylvania Durable Power of Attorney Forms for naming a healthcare proxy are available in both our Smarter Will Pack™ (which includes both a basic will and medical directives) and Medical Directives Pack™, which are both great starter plans for young adults. But don't take our word for it: check out the 8 Stages of Estate Planning in Bankrate.com's Estate Planning Guide.
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