What is a HIPPA authorization and why is it important in Estate Planning?
Simply put, a HIPAA Authorization is a document where a person allows a medical provider to share their health information with a 3rd party without violating federal HIPAA regulations.
HIPAA is an abbreviation for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which was passed by Congress in 1996.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was enacted to protect and provide individuals with medical records and other information that would identify them.
The key to HIPAA is to allow individuals to have privacy and control over their protected health information. Thus, HIPAA restricts physicians, dentists, medical professionals, and their business associates from disclosing protected health information of patients.
A well-drafted estate plan should cover you:
- While you are healthy and able to make decisions;
- If you become disabled and are unable to make decisions;
- Upon your death.
A valid HIPAA authorization ensures that your doctors or medical providers can share information with whomever you choose as a recipient.
HIPAA Authorization’s Give Permission to Share Medical Information
Sometimes individuals want their medical information to be shared with others.
For example, an 18-year-old who just started college out of state may want her father to be able to talk with her longtime family doctor in order to fill a prescription.
Without a valid HIPAA authorization, the doctor could not legally share medical information with the girl’s father. So in this instance, the girl may want to execute a HIPAA authorization that gives her doctor permission to speak with her father.
A valid HIPAA authorization contains the following 9 elements:
- A specific description of the Protected Health Information (PHI) that is to be disclosed or used;
- The name of the person or entity who is authorized to make the requested disclosure
- The name of the person who is the recipient of the PHI;
- A description of the purpose for which disclosure is requested (for each disclosure);
- The signature of the patient or the patient’s representative. If it is handled by a representative, a description of their authority is required.
- The date of the signing along with the expiration date.
- The authorization must also contain all the relevant statement that protects the rights of the patient.
- If the authorization is to be used for marketing purposes, the patients must be notified in the authorization document that the provider would receive remuneration with the PHI.
- The authorization must be presented in plain language and for patients with less English proficiency, the provider might be required to translate the contents.
Sample California HIPAA Authorization Form
As with all estate planning documents, it is important to have them drafted and reviewed by a licensed estate planning attorney.
The money, time, and stress consequence of the document not being valid far outweigh the cost of doing it right the first time. The last thing you want is for your decisions to be reviewed in probate court.
With that said, here are some links solely for information/educational purposes to some HIPAA forms:
What is the difference between a Health Care Power of Attorney and a HIPAA Authorization?
An Advance Health Care Directive (or health care power of attorney) is a document where you designate someone (health care agent) to make your health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to.
Generally speaking, if the healthcare power of attorney is in effect the healthcare agent will not need an additional HIPPA authorization to get access to medical information.
A stand-alone HIPAA authorization does not allow someone to make health care decisions on behalf of the principal. It only allows access to their information.