The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, generally referred to as HIPAA, enacted privacy provisions that often create challenges for people needing medical care. In the process of protecting the privacy of information, the law severely restricts access to data about a patient. HIPAA prohibits doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies from sharing information or discussing health care matters without a patient’s express consent. In an emergency situation, that consent may be impossible to obtain.
That means that if you were in an accident, the hospital staff might not be able to tell your family anything about your condition. With a properly-prepared HIPAA release, however, you can authorize medical professionals to share information with trusted friends or family members in a variety of situations.
At Blacksburg Law, we want you to be protected, regardless of what the future may bring. We prepare HIPAA Release documents as a critical component of comprehensive plans to prevent delays, streamline processes, and reduce stress for you and your family.
How a HIPAA Release Works in California
A HIPAA release authorization is a document that explains the specific uses and disclosures of protected health care information. To be effective, a release authorization must include language that satisfies the requirements of both federal and state privacy laws.
When a client signs a release form prepared for them, they give health care providers authority to share information as provided in the document. The release form overrides the restrictions in health care privacy laws so that individuals you trust can have access to information to assist with everything from treatment decisions to insurance billing questions.
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Why You Need a HIPAA Release
Many people assume that doctors are automatically allowed to communicate with their family because of the close relationship. Sometimes people remember that they signed a release form at the doctor’s office and they assume that the form they signed earlier will be sufficient to enable health care providers to share information when needed. Unfortunately, these assumptions often prove to be false.
Without a legally-acceptable form of authorization, many times doctors are not permitted to talk to anyone about a patient’s medical condition. A release form signed at a doctor’s office or other facility might be very limited in scope, either providing authorization only for a short time or in very specific circumstances. If the facility transfers you or you receive additional care from a different provider, the limited release may no longer be valid. The person you authorized earlier may be unable to learn what is happening in your case and unable to assist in any way.
Privacy restrictions often pose a greater challenge for college students and young adults still covered by their parents’ insurance. The insurance company may need to speak with the person who is the primary insurance holder, but they cannot discuss any matters involving adult children without legally acceptable authorization.
A HIPAA release prepared with the right authorization allows parents to help their adult children or their aging parents with insurance issues and other matters related to care. But it is a good idea to have a HIPAA release prepared regardless of your stage life.
Getting the Full Benefits from a HIPAA Release
Once your estate planning attorney has created a release authorization that covers your specific needs according to the terms you want, then it is important to ensure that the document can be easily accessed. You should notify providers and other interested individuals including:
- Your primary care physician
- Other physicians or practitioners you see regularly
- The agent designated in your power of attorney for health care
- Trustees, agents, executors, or any other individuals named in your other estate planning documents
Of course, the individual or individuals you authorize with the HIPAA release should also have a copy of the document or know where to find it if necessary. Storing a copy of the release with your other estate planning documents is also a wise idea.
Blacksburg Law Can Prepare the Right HIPAA Release for Your Needs
A comprehensive estate plan protects you and your family in a variety of “what if” situations. Having the right HIPAA release prepared is one tool to protect your family from delays, uncertainty, and anxiety.
If you are missing this critical component or you would like our team to review your current documents to determine whether they provide the authorization you need, just contact us so we can keep you protected.
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