by Anne Lodge
Attention parents! I recently came across an article on www.consumerreports.org that shared important medical information with parents of soon-to-be eighteen year olds. Although teenagers often can’t wait to turn eighteen so they can legally be considered an adult, some of the ramifications of that page-turn in the calendar can be far reaching if your child ever has a medical emergency. According to a trusts and estate attorney quoted in the article, “‘once a child turns 18, the child is legally a stranger to you’”. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA, protects the medical information of the newly-minted adult, regardless of who carries the health insurance. In a medical emergency situation, especially if the child is living away from home, parents may not be able to obtain information about their child’s well-being once they turn eighteen.
For those parents who still feel that it would be important to be able to help protect, guide, and support their child medically after they turn eighteen, there are steps that you can take now so that HIPPA doesn’t prevent you from doing so. Completion of the HIPPA authorization form, a medical power of attorney form, and a durable power of attorney form, will allow parents to still be involved in a medical emergency situation for their son or daughter. The forms can typically be downloaded from the web and completed without the support of an attorney. The article suggests scanning the forms once they are completed so that they are readily accessible on a smartphone or a computer. Taking these few simple steps before your child is ever faced with a potential medical emergency may make all the difference in allowing you the ability to access the medical information to help support your child.
For more detailed information on the HIPPA authorization form, medical power of attorney form, and durable power of attorney form, please see the article, “Will You Be Able to Help Your College-Age Child in a Medical Emergency?” by Susan Feinstein: http://consumerreports.org/health/help-your-college-age-child-in-a-medical-emergency/.