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Does your Health Care Directive provide HIPAA Authorization?

Does your Advance Health Care Directive provide HIPAA Authorization? An Advance Health Care Directive is an imperative part of your estate plan. It authorizes an individual of your choice to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated or too ill to make your own decisions. The intent is also for that individual, as your health care agent, to be able to access your health care records or communicate on your behalf regarding your health care information.

In 2000 Congress began to enact the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). In part, HIPAA provides patient confidentiality by protecting your health care records, making them inaccessible by others unless specifically authorized by you or by this Act. This heightened privacy may otherwise be desirable, but it can cause conflicts in matters of your estate plan.

Your Power of Attorney and Living Trust likely require proof of incapacity, as certified by a physician, before your named Trustee or Power of Attorney Agent can act on your behalf during a period of your incapacity. Unless you have executed a specific HIPAA Release/Authorization for your designated health care agent, or have included HIPAA Release Authority within your Advance Health Care Directive, that Trustee or Power of Attorney Agent may not be able to obtain this certification because your physicians may refuse to disclose it. This will delay them from handling urgent financial and business matters on your behalf.

Most current Advance Health Care Directives now contain HIPAA Release Authority within. If yours does not have a clear release, it is imperative to update your Advance Health Care Directive to include one.

If you would like a review of your Advance Care Health Directive, or any of your Estate Planning Documents, the attorneys at The Loftin Firm, P.C. can assist you.