The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a Federal law designed to protect your privacy when it comes to your healthcare information. Your doctors and healthcare providers cannot discuss or disclose your protected health information with other people or entities unless you give your consent.
While this law keeps your personal health information, it can also make things harder on your family members or loved ones. HIPAA can be particularly difficult when you become incapacitated or incompetent and your family members want to talk to your doctors about your condition.
A HIPAA release or HIPAA authorization form allows your doctor to discuss your condition with the persons named in your release form. Your spouse or loved ones can get access to information about your health and medical treatments.
The HIPAA release is a key component of planning for incapacity, along with a healthcare direction and a healthcare power of attorney.
Healthcare Power of Attorney and HIPAA
A healthcare power of attorney is a document that gives someone else the power to discuss and make healthcare decisions on your behalf. You may be wondering—why is the HIPAA release necessary if you already have a healthcare power of attorney?
First, doctors and healthcare providers are very careful about abiding by the requirements of HIPAA. They may face fines or other punishments for violating the law. A properly executed HIPAA release makes their jobs easier.
A healthcare power of attorney also has limitations. The healthcare agent only becomes responsible for your medical decisions after a doctor has determined that you are incompetent to make your own decisions. If the agent wants access to medical records or information before the doctor has determined whether you are incompetent, the HIPAA release can provide this access.
You can give a HIPAA authorization to several different people, including your spouse, durable and healthcare powers of attorney, and other loved ones. Ask your estate planning attorney about who you should choose to include in your HIPAA release form.
You will receive a HIPAA authorization form if you choose to use any of our estate planning packages, along with powers of attorney, wills, and other legal documents.
King Law handles estate planning matters in North and South Carolina, including wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. Follow us on Facebook for more information and updates on legal issues.