The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, more commonly known as HIPAA, is a law that mandates that privacy and confidentiality be maintained between medical professionals and their patients. Even non-medically trained employees who have access to medical records must comply with the Act’s privacy rules.
So what does HIPAA have to do with estate planning?
The HIPAA-Estate Plan Connection
HIPAA protects your confidential health information with its Privacy Rule, which prohibits health care organizations and professionals from disclosing personal details about your medical condition or medical records. In your estate plan, however, you may want to provide a way for your loved ones to access these private records in case of emergency. By allowing for those close to you – even one person– to access this information, you may be able to help them make the right decisions for you if you are not able to make medical decisions for yourself.
Review your estate plan to make sure that there is specific wording that allows your medical patient advocate to access your medical records. Sometimes you may have a separate HIPAA release that gives very detailed and clear instructions about disclosure of medical information. If you are not comfortable with someone having access to all of your records, this HIPAA release can be very specific regarding what records can be accessed and by whom.
Is a HIPAA Release Necessary?
Our firm believes a HIPAA release is a vital element of an estate plan. Considering the stringent rules that medical providers are given for how information is conveyed and released, it is crucial that you specify exactly what and to whom you want to give access. Contact us if we may help you will your estate plan needs – including a HIPAA release.