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What is a HIPAA Authorization?

The HIPAA Authorization form specifically permits medical professionals to share your health information with one or more third parties. In the event that you cannot make decisions on your own, your estate should include a medical power of attorney. However, the medical power of attorney may not specifically mention HIPAA. Thus, a medical professional could refuse to share enough information with your loved one to allow them to make an informed medical decision on your behalf.

When you add a HIPAA Authorization form to your estate plan, no medical professional can withhold the information you need unless they feel that you did not have the capacity to make that decision at the time.

Does My Estate Plan Need a HIPAA Authorization?

While you do not explicitly need a HIPAA Authorization form, any medical professional at any time could refuse to give your personal representative health information. This could be a matter of life or death. Often, minutes or seconds count. Instead of providing medical professionals an option to argue with your loved one, add the HIPAA Authorization form to your estate plan.

Additionally, if you do not have an estate plan, or your estate plan does not include a medical power of attorney, the HIPAA Authorization form will tell doctors that you wish them to discuss your health with the person named on the form. However, we recommend that you do not rely solely on the HIPAA Authorization form as it does not allow your loved one to make medical decisions for you – it only permits doctors to share your healthcare information with your loved one.

What Must a HIPAA Authorization Include?

The HIPAA Authorization form should include your name, the name of the person you allow access to your health information and medical records, and what particular information you agree to share with the named person.

You can choose to name more than one person, and you can choose to share specific information. For example, the HIPAA Authorization form can direct your medical providers to share information about your diabetes but not about your cancer. However, in many cases, one system illness affects other bodily systems, so unless you absolutely need to keep something private, you should specify it as related to certain illnesses.

You could also complete more than one HIPAA form if you wish to keep some medical issues private – one for each person who is dealing with a specific aspect of your health.

What Do I Do With a HIPAA Authorization Form?

Once you have completed and signed a HIPAA Authorization form, you keep the original and give a copy to each of your doctors. You should also provide a copy to each person named on the form.

Instruct your loved ones to bring the form with them every time they need to speak to a medical professional about your health. Do not rely on the medical professionals having immediate access to the authorization form you provided to your doctor, especially if you are in the hospital for emergency treatment.

How Can a Lawyer Help With The Authorization for My Estate Plan?

Estate plans are not just for death. An estate plan could contain documents that allow your loved ones to take care of you should an accident or illness incapacitate you temporarily or permanently. Certain trusts allow someone to manage your assets, financial and health powers of attorney allow your loved ones to act on your behalf, and the HIPAA Authorization allows your loved ones to receive information on your health status so that they can make informed decisions.

If you do not have an estate plan yet, regardless of your age, contact an estate planning attorney to create a thorough estate plan. If you have an estate plan, you should update it periodically and add a HIPAA Authorization form. 

A Houston Estate Planning Lawyer Here To Support You

Whenever you find yourself needing to reach out to our office, you can be sure you won’t need to wait for hours or days in order to get a response. Here at Stafford Law Firm, we pride ourselves on being easily accessible and on responding to all client inquiries as soon as possible.

The fact of the matter is, one day you will need to fall back on your estate plan. Whether it will simply be to pass on your family’s wealth after you pass, or something even more heartbreaking like needing a new guardian appointment for your children, having a thorough and customized plan in place will help make sure your family and your future are well taken care of. This plan will likely need to include a medical power of attorney and as such, a HIPAA Authorization, and you can rest easy knowing that an experienced Houston Estate Planning Lawyer has your best interests at heart. 

Schedule your free consultation right away to discuss your estate planning needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

A HIPAA authorization form is an important document often overlooked in estate plans. Without express permission to share your medical records, medical professionals will likely be unable to share the information with your power of attorney even if time is of the essence.

A HIPAA authorization is valid for as long as is designated on the form. Authorizations can be indefinite, or they can be set to expire after a certain number of days, or once the person reaches a certain age.

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