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Two Things Every Student Needs Before Heading off to College

On Behalf of | Jun 30, 2022 | Healthcare Directive

You’ve been accepted at the school of your choice and you’re officially an adult! Now it is time to get the documents detailed below in place to take control over your life and your medical care.

What Is an Advance Health Care Directive?

An Advance Health Care Directive is a document that allows your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. This is particularly important as we discover more about the potentially severe effects of COVID-19. As a young healthy adult, you may feel like you’re immune to the statistics. But should you need hospitalization of any kind, as a legal adult (age 18 and older), your parents do not have the automatic right to speak with your doctors about your care. You need to appoint your parents as your agents and include them in your HIPAA waiver.

Your Advance Health Care Directive also enables you to document your wishes for organ donation or end of life options, should you be diagnosed with an incurable condition. These are important decisions that should be set forth in advance, so your friends and family know your intentions in the event of an emergency.

Does my agent need to be local?

Unlike your agent choices for your Power of Attorney, you should pick agents for your Advance Health Care Directive who are local and available. Your health care agents will need to be present to speak in person with doctors, nurses, and health care facility administrators. Your medical condition may be critical, requiring decisions to be made when time is of the essence. If possible, pick health care agents who live locally.

Can I use the form provided by my hospital/HMO/doctor?

Many medical facilities and hospitals have their own Advance Health Care Directives for patients to complete. You should complete this form as directed by your doctor. However, if for any reason you are hospitalized in a hospital or facility other than the one where you completed your directive, your friends and family will be unable to use that completed directive. An institution-based Advance Health Care Directive is normally on file with that institution and may not be honored by another facility.

What Is A HIPAA Waiver?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed by Congress in 1996. This act, among other provisions, requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information.

A HIPAA waiver is a document that allows the people you designate to have access to your medical records. Hospitals often ask for this document before discussing any patient details with friends and family. There is, in fact, HIPAA waiver language included in the Advance Health Care Directive. However, for practical purposes, it is advisable to have a stand-alone HIPAA waiver in addition to the Advance Health Care Directive. Often, doctors, nurses or medical facility administrators and personnel do not closely ready the Advance Health Care Directive document. The stand-alone HIPAA waiver makes it easier for your doctor to speak with your friends and family.

Who can be named in my HIPAA waiver?

Your HIPAA waiver should, at a minimum, list the same people you have listed as agents in your Advance Health Care Directive. However, you can include additional people on your HIPAA waiver beyond the agents you named in your directive. For example, you may have listed your sister and brother as agents under your Advance Health Care Directive, but you may want to include your parents on your HIPAA waiver.

What powers do the people named in my HIPAA waiver have?

The people named in your HIPAA waiver have no power to make medical decisions on your behalf. They only have the authority to speak with nurses, doctors, and medical personnel regarding your condition, prognosis, and treatment.