Although they’re old enough to go off to college, you’re still helping them remember to pack enough underwear. It’s still your job to keep them safe so you make sure they bring their Neosporin and HEPA air filter amongst countless other necessities they have surely taken for granted up until this point.
What you might be forgetting however is to help them complete a HIPAA form and Health Care Proxy prior waving good-by to them at their new dorm.
Upon turning 18, rules protecting the child’s privacy may prevent a parent from being able to access the child’s medical information. Imagine your child gets into a car or sports accident. You rush to the hospital only to find out that they are not allowed to share your child’s medical status with you. Moreover, you may not be able to make any treatment decisions on their behalf. Of course no parent wants to think about their child having a medical emergency but lack of information or access could make that situation much, much worse.
For situations such as these and others, advisers and estate attorneys suggest parents have a Health Care Proxy with a HIPAA release even for adult children. Getting these documents in place requires a very adult conversation but it’s also a good step on the child’s journey to maturity.
A Health Care Proxy lets the family make medical decisions on behalf of the patient when he or she is unable to make decisions for themselves. This is to ensure that strangers won’t be making treatment decisions with no input from loved ones. The good news is that a Health Care Proxy is very easy to create. It simply needs to be witnessed by two people other than the named agent.
In addition to the Health Care Proxy, a HIPAA release form is needed. A HIPAA release form ensures that the family (or designated person) will be given information regarding the patients’ treatment. This way the doctors and nurses can legally speak about the patients’ medical care. However, it is purposefully short on specifics. This is not the document wherein one expresses their wishes on every conceivable treatment under the sun. Customization can take place within another document called a Living Will. The only specifics that should be included in the Health Care Proxy are whether or not the named agent is permitted to make life-sustaining treatment decisions. It is also a good idea to permit the agent to consent to the liberal administration of pain-relieving medication. This will alleviate possible liability concerns on the part of medical providers.
You do not need to pay for either of these documents. They can be obtained from your Primary Care Physician, or online. Once you have the forms, fill them out completely and have them signed by witnesses. Then give copies to everyone mentioned in these documents.
In regards to the Health Care Proxy Form, try to name at least two health care proxies, in case one of them is unable to be reached in an emergency. It is recommended that parents keep the original documents in a safe but quickly accessible place at home, and also keep a PDF file of the papers stored digitally for immediate access anywhere.
For an online version of these forms, please click the links below: