When your child turns 18 and is away at college, you might not realize that you won’t have the ability to talk to the school or the hospital or the doctors in the event your child has a medical emergency due to the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). An 18-year old is legally an adult and you will have no right to get medical information unless you set up the right documents for your child. This is true even if the child is covered under your health insurance plan (many plans allow your child to stay on the plan until age 26) and even if you are paying their bill. Now, this might depend on the doctor. A medical provider can choose to disclose protected health information to a family member of the patient even without the patient’s authorization if it is in the doctor’s professional judgment it serves the patient’s best interest, but doctors always err on the side of caution and in favor of patient privacy.
If you have a child away at college and is over the age of 18, you should have the following three documents prepared for your child so that you can help your child in an emergency:
- HIPAA Authorization
- Living Will and Patient Advocate Designation
- Durable Power of Attorney
Also, double-check and see if the college has its own forms, have those filled out too. If the college is out-of-state, have forms specific to that state be prepared as well.