HIPAA and You
Think back to the last time you went to the doctor’s office. It could have been a routine blood test, an annual physical, a quick checkup – any number of things. Did your doctor ask you to sign anything, or ask whom they could contact and provide with information about your results? There is a reason they ask that: the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
HIPAA regulates the use and disclosure of protected health information concerning a patient and makes it so that no one other than you can receive information about yourself. This is a very useful federal regulation that helps to protect your confidential health information. This way, no one but you can call up your doctor or hospital and request your information. This keeps your private records secure, as well as your personal information. Nobody likes having their privacy violated, and HIPAA helps protect that.
What will you do in the event that you become incapacitated? Perhaps you have an accident resulting in a coma. Your appointed trustee or family member, guardian or power of attorney is going to need access to your medical information to help make informed decisions on your behalf. However, when they go to retrieve your medical records, they will be asked whether they are HIPAA authorized to view your information. If they are, then they will receive it and be able to make a better decision on your behalf. If they are not (and it will be checked), then they are in no way going to see that information. That can be a problem to both you and your estate.
While HIPAA is beneficial to everyone, it does create a bit of a roadblock for your family and your estate if you get sick, injured, or incapacitated without having a HIPAA Authorization filled out and ready. Your Texas estate-planning attorney can assist with creating this and having it readily available in the event you become unfit to handle your estate.
It may not seem like a lot now, but health care providers are EXTREMELY careful with the transmission of confidential health information these days. Violation of HIPAA rules can lead to steep financial penalties.
All HIPAA compliant practices today use secure email servers to send and store information regarding you and your health. If you want to ensure that your appointed trustee or family member, guardian or power of attorney will have access to your health and medical records in the event of sudden illness or a disability, it is essential that you have both a valid HIPAA Authorization and Health Care Power of Attorney. Feel free to reach out to your local attorney for further information, as well as any questions you may have about your Frisco, Plano, Dallas, McKinney or Allen, Texas estate.