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What New College Students Need to Know About HIPAA

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, as legal guardians, have access to their children’s medical information and are the ones making most of the medical decisions, as well as paying the expenses.

 

However, once the individual turns 18 years old, he or she is no longer a minor. This means that 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. Most 18-year-olds are still in high school, or are headed off to college. They may live at home or in a dorm or apartment, but may still rely on their parents for financial support. Although they are considered a legal adult, their day-to-day lives still involve their parents.

 

Young adults, and especially those going away to college or moving away from their parents, 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 is 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. Even if you have a HIPAA Authorization Form with your name on it, that does not give you the power to make medical decisions on that person’s behalf, only to receive information.

 

If your child, has recently turned 18 years old or is in need of a HIPAA Authorization Form, please give us a call. The experienced attorneys at Davis Law Group can discuss ways to protect your new college student even after they’ve left the nest, and through all the other major milestones in life.

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