Health care professionals must comply with specific rules to protect people’s health information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) lays out the regulations. However, there may come a time when you need someone else to access your medical details.
A HIPPA release gives someone the power to access your personal health information. It could be vital if you are unable to do so yourself due to an accident or illness. In most cases, you would designate your spouse or another family member. Ideally, choose someone who will be around to help out, not someone who lives on a different continent.
Does a HIPAA release give access to all my medical information?
You can specify what medical information specific people can access. You can also identify what medical providers the release covers. For instance, if you do not wish for your family to find out about your terminal cancer, you might exclude the cancer specialist from being permitted to give out information.
Does a HIPAA release permit someone to make decisions on my behalf?
A HIPAA release only allows people access to your medical information. It does not let them do anything with this information, such as elect which treatment you have. There are other legal means to do this that you should include as part of your estate plan. You can name someone as your medical power of attorney to make decisions on your behalf. You can also stipulate specific treatment preferences in a health care directive.
Hopefully you will never need your HIPAA release. However, failing to plan for the worst risks creating problems for yourself and your family if life does not go as planned.