Congratulations to all the parents of 2016 graduates! Why am I congratulating you? You, the parents, have made it through the trying high school years of adolescence, tears and friendship drama, frustration over last minute homework projects and continual support that may have gone unrecognized!
Eighteen years goes by in a blink of an eye, right? Now your child is preparing for the last summer at home before he or she heads out the door to college. Your child is preparing to spend the summer traveling with your family, saving money and buying all the necessary dorm “must-have” items. As an adult, your child is now legally able to care for him or herself, but we all know parenting doesn’t end here.
Legally speaking, yes, your legal authority does end. Your child still relies on you to help pay some bills, but you do not have a legal right to access their medical records and assist with making healthcare decisions without authorization by your child to the healthcare provider. The first illness away from home, your child goes to the campus doctor. When you find out they are sick, you call to understand the diagnosis and get more medical information on treatment. However, unlike before when you were driving her to the doctor’s office down the street, the doctor now tells you, “I’m sorry, I can’t give you that information, but I’m happy to take your payment for our services over the phone.”
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) privacy rules provide patients protection with respect to their health information, including important controls over how their health information is used and disclosed by health plans and health care providers. It is to ensure strong privacy rules are followed. Paying for the health insurance alone does not entitle you to receive information about your child’s medical treatments. See 45 C.F.R. §§ 164.502 and 164.510.
As a parent, you should talk with your child about health care decisions and ensure health care directives, such as a Health Care Power of Attorney, a Living Will, Mental Health Care Power of Attorney, and a HIPAA Authorization for Release of Information, are properly drafted and signed. These documents will cover how decisions are to be made if your child is unable to make medical decisions for him- or herself. Also, the HIPAA Authorization will allow you, as their parent to receive medical information at all times.
So, while making that summer activity list and dorm shopping list, add an appointment for your child to consult with an experienced estate planner to fully understand options your child has with regards to her healthcare directives. You will have peace of mind knowing you are able to receive complete information regarding your child’s medical condition, especially when you can’t be there.
Allison Manning enjoys helping clients establish peace of mind in their estate plans and building relationships with her clients. If you would like to make an appointment to find out how we can help protect your legacy, call (520) 529-4000, or visit us online at www.KHarizona.com.