IT’S HAPPENING! YOUR CHILD IS GOING TO COLLEGE. THIS IS BOTH AN EXCITING AND FINANCIALLY TAXING TIME TO BE A PARENT.
The tuition payments are secure, the car is packed up with XL twin sheets and lamps and all the things a young coed will need. And while it may feel that everything is in order, take a moment to ask yourself if your now legal adult has given you a medical power of attorney, durable power of attorney, and their HIPAA release. These are documents you may not think of but in today’s environment with privacy rules, if your child were to have a problem it might be difficult for you to quickly assist.
We understand these are hard conversations to have. This is the start of an exciting new chapter and conversations about unforeseen injury or tragedy are difficult, even in the best of times. But in the case of the unplanned and unthinkable, having had the hard conversation and gotten the necessary paperwork in order will be invaluable.
HIPAA Release Forms and Power of Attorney
If an adult child gets in an accident and their parents do not have medical power of attorney or HIPPA releasei, they cannot gain access to information on the medical condition of their child. The day your child turns 18, he or she is legally an adult and it is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath to release their private medical records. Parents are also not authorized to make medical decisions on their child’s behalf without their consent. HIPPA privacy rules apply even if your 18-year-old child is on your insurance.ii
Having a HIPAA release allows you, the parent, access to medical records and the ability to make decisions on behalf of your child if they are unable. You would function as their health-care proxy. Without these documents, a hospital is not legally allowed to share any information.iii An awkward conversation and a few signatures can offset a world of worry and difficulty in the case of unforeseen medical emergencies. It is recommended to create duplicates of the signed HIPAA release, one to go to your child’s doctor/college infirmary and one to retain for your records.
Peace of Mind
While these conversations are challenging, they can also be educational moments. Teaching your child to be proactive about their future, including in the case of an emergency or death, will only help them to be forward-thinking and better prepared in life.iv Sending your child to college with the signed releases can let you, the parent, rest assured that even in an unthinkable situation, you are prepared.