“By Failing to Prepare, you Prepare to Fail” - Benjamin Franklin

A HIPAA Release Can Be Essential for Parents and College-Bound Young Adults

Have you considered what life might be like for college-bound young adults right now? Expecting young adults to wear masks at college parties is a tall order. The same could be said for athletic events, fraternity and sorority gatherings, and off-campus meet-ups. For many students, “social distancing” may not be part of the college experience. With COVID-19 surging, particularly among young people, and universities slated to reopen in the fall, many parents are rightly concerned about the risk of infection. 

While parents cannot control what happens at school, they can be prepared for emergencies. Securing a HIPPA release can be a first line of defense. Without one, you may be in for a frightening surprise.

Parents typically handle medical decisions and health care-related issues for their children. They may assume those responsibilities can continue when their children transition to college. Once a student reaches 18, however, he or she is legally considered an adult and health information remains private under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA.

If a COVID-19 outbreak occurs and your adult child is hospitalized, health care providers may be obligated to protect your child’s medical information unless he or she has signed a HIPAA authorization form allowing them to share information with you. Without the authorization, parents could be blocked from talking to their child’s doctors, prevented from getting important medical information from the hospital, and restricted from participating in their child’s care. They may not even be able to make a routine doctor’s appointment.

A HIPAA release is often a standard health care estate planning item. It can, essentially, act as a permission slip that tells medical professionals who they may talk to about a patient’s personal medical information, and what information can be disclosed. When a college student designates his or her parents on the form, parents can be kept abreast of medical developments. They may also share their child’s medical history and other potentially critical information.

With guidance, parents and students can also craft a HIPAA arrangement that allows parents to communicate with their child’s medical providers while still allowing certain privacies for the young adult, such as college counseling sessions or sexually related health information. With the help of a legal professional, parents and students can accurately specify what information can be shared and to whom. 

Our office can help navigate these challenges. Contact us today to schedule a meeting.

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