The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established national standards to protect the privacy of patients’ health care information. The Privacy Rule took effect in 2003. It mandated that health care providers and insurance companies who released the medical information of patients could be subject to civil fines, criminal penalties, and imprisonment.

Most of us would agree that medical information should be kept private. However, HIPAA has resulted in some unfortunate consequences for patients and their families. This is because the penalties associated with violating HIPAA have led health care providers to be extremely cautious about sharing medical information with anyone except the patient—including spouses, children, and other family members. The result? Those who matter most to you might not be able to get information about your condition or even be allowed to visit you in the hospital, in a medical emergency. This not only leads to frustration and stress for them, it could also deny you the love and support of the people who matter to you in life at the very time you need them most.

A legal document known as a HIPAA Authorization can allow you to avoid this scenario.  It allows you to specify the individuals who are authorized to have access to your medical information. With a properly drafted and implemented HIPAA Authorization, care providers will be far more likely to share information about your condition to the loved ones of your choosing in an emergency medical situation. And, allow them to visit you in your hour of need.

Contact us for experienced legal counsel in creating and implementing your HIPAA Authorization as part of your comprehensive estate plan.