By: Christopher T. Casey, Esq.
We are living in uncertain times. So many of our daily routines have been upended in the past couple of months, and so many things remain unknown. One thing you never want to leave to chance is your child’s health. Now more than ever, you should give serious consideration to creating a Health Care Proxy and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Authorization for your child over the age of eighteen, especially if he or she is an out-of-state college student.
What are Health Care Proxies and HIPAA Authorizations?
Health Care Proxies and HIPAA Authorizations are legal documents that work together to make your child’s health care wishes known. In case your child becomes incapacitated or unable to make health care decisions for him or herself, these documents designate loved ones to make these decisions in accordance with the child’s wishes. They also allow for health care providers to disclose private health care information to the people your child chooses. They help to remove roadblocks that stand in between your child, your family, and the health care system.
Why Does My Child Need These Documents?
Many parents are surprised to learn that once children reach the age of eighteen, parents are no longer considered legal representatives for health care purposes. This means that confidentiality laws will kick in to protect your child’s privacy, and his or her doctor is blocked from telling you about your child’s condition, even in an emergency. Without signing these documents, if your child was ever seriously ill, in an accident, or otherwise disabled even temporarily, you may need to go to court in order to act on his or her behalf. Additionally, you may not even be notified that your child is ill or hospitalized. In our current climate, this reality hits closer to home than ever before. You don’t want to leave these things up to chance, especially if your child is in college or living out-of-state. Establishing these documents helps ensure you can take an active role in your child’s health care concerns.
While it is important that your college-aged children have their independence, most college students expect for their parents to be their fallback in case of emergency. Establishing the necessary documentation to allow you to take care of your child in the most dire of circumstances is incredibly important. Other documents, like a Living Will or Power of Attorney, may also be important to consider when sending your children off to college. Having these health care documents ready and in the hands of your child’s school and treating physicians will give you the peace of mind to know you can be there for your child in case of emergency. Our firm has decades of experience in drafting documents like these, and we would be happy to help your family prepare in these uncertain times.