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HIPAA Laws and Estate Planning | LA County Will and Trust Lawyers

Insurance Forms

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects the privacy of individuals concerning their health care and medical issues. However, the act also includes the ability for individuals to name agents who have rights to receive medical information if named in a HIPAA release form. LA County estate planning lawyers stress that a HIPAA Medical Release is an essential part of any estate plan.

What is a HIPAA Medical Release?

A HIPAA Medical Release is a document which allows family members or other agents to communicate with healthcare professionals and health insurance agencies regarding an individual’s medical condition. HIPAA Medical Releases can be standalone documents, or they can sometimes be included in living wills or Medical Powers of Attorney. An LA County estate planning attorney can advise you as to which form a HIPAA Medical Release should take in order to work most effectively.

What can a HIPAA Agent do?

A person named on a HIPAA Medical Release can speak with healthcare professionals and health insurance agencies on behalf of the person who signed the HIPAA Medical Release, meaning the professionals and agencies must treat the agent as if they are the person receiving the health care. The HIPAA Medical Release only gives authority to communicate with healthcare professionals and health insurance agencies; there are no decision-making powers associated with the release. A document naming a health care representative is needed in order for someone other than the individual to make health care decisions. We suggest you consult with an LA County estate planning lawyer in order to determine what medical documents you need for your individual situation and estate plan.

Who should be named on the HIPAA Medical Release?

Typically, a spouse and adult children are named on the HIPAA Medical Release, along with anyone else who may need to have information about an individual’s medical condition or who needs to speak with healthcare and health insurance professionals. Remember, a person named as an agent on a HIPAA Medical Release will be treated just like the individual who created the document – they will have access to all of that person’s personal medical information. While this is necessary for a spouse and usually adult children, others should be chosen more carefully if privacy is valued. In the case that a person does not have a spouse or children, then relatives, trusted friends, and sometimes even attorneys are named on the HIPAA Medical Release. Speak with an LA County estate planning lawyer to discuss who may be the best agents to name on your HIPAA Medical Release.

If you have any further questions about HIPAA laws or HIPAA Medical Releases, please contact our LA County will and trust lawyers at (818) 905-6088 to set up a consultation.