Allison Kierman Article


Are You Authorized To Help Your College-Aged Child In A Medical Emergency?

If your child is over 18 years old, you may no longer have the right to receive medical information about your child, or make decisions in the event of a medical emergency.

This summer, before your child heads off to college, have a family discussion about the necessity and benefits of executing a HIPPA Authorization Form and Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney.

In the event of an illness, injury, hospitalization, or incapacity, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) limits use, disclosure, and release of individually identifiable health information. Once your child reaches the age of 18, he or she is considered an adult and is entitled to all privacy protections afforded by the law. This includes privacy from parents or other guardians. This is true even if you provide your child with health insurance, claim the child as a dependent on tax forms, and are paying the bills.

While everyone hopes that their child will stay healthy and safe while at school, in the event of a physical, mental, or emotional injury or hospitalization, health care providers will not be able to share information with the parent. This can be make a difficult time, more complicated and stressful for parents.

To alleviate such complication and stress, you should ask your child to execute a HIPPA Authorization Form and Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney.

The HIPAA Authorization Form allows medical professionals to share general information such as diagnoses, medications, and test results with authorized individuals. This allows those authorized to communicate directly with doctors and obtain advice from doctors. Such communication and advice will be especially helpful if your child is out of state and you are deciding the necessity of traveling to be with and take care of your child.

The Medical Power of Attorney gives permission for you to act as your child’s medical agent. This allows you to participate in and make medical decisions with and for your child, as may be necessary and where your child is struggling or incapable of making such decisions for him/herself. Similarly, the Financial Power of Attorney gives permission for you to act as your child’s financial agent. You are then permitted to carry on financial affairs if your child becomes disabled, including accessing bank accounts, paying bills, and ensuring your child does not fall behind on payments.

After your child has executed these forms, both you and your child should keep copies on hand in the event of a medical emergency. You and your child should also provide a copy to the applicable University Student Health Center where your child attends school, your child to give a copy to their local doctors, and you may want to consider providing a copy the local hospital.
Ensure your children are protected even after they turn 18 and head off to college. A law firm can help you discuss these needs with your family, explain the benefits and necessity of these forms with your child, and prepare all necessary forms before your child heads off for college next fall. Don’t be left in the dark if something happens to your child!

Contributing Attorney: Allison Kierman is an attorney at Kierman Law, PLC where she provides assistance with estate planning and business consulting.

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