Have you received a notification that soon you will not have access to your child’s healthcare portal?
For better or worse, when your child turns 18, they are an adult in the eyes of the law. There is a federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which protects our medical records, commonly referred to as HIPAA. Therefore, once your child turns 18 all of their medical records are “protected” and can only be accessed by your child.
However, if your child signs a HIPAA release listing you, their siblings, or other trusted adults, then those named people can access their medical information. What this means in a practical sense is that if your child names you in their HIPAA release, you can talk to their doctors about their medical status. If your young adult child is in an accident away from home, you would be able to call the hospital to ask how they are doing.
Some parents will try to skirt the system by getting their child’s log-in for the health care portals, or they will take their child to the doctor and have the child give verbal authorization for their parent to speak with the doctor.
But what if your child is seeing a doctor away from home? What if the password to the portal changes and your child is unable to give verbal authorization? Wouldn’t it be easier to have the legal documents in place allowing you the parents to talk to the doctors and hospitals in case of an emergency?
As parents, we usually feel that our 18-year-olds should not have to navigate their health care alone. And most 18-year-olds don’t usually want to go it alone without their parents. Obviously, this is not true for all families. But if you have a loving relationship with your young adult child, you should consider getting a HIPAA authorization done just in case.
In addition, I recommend a healthcare proxy at the same time. The difference between a healthcare proxy and a HIPAA release is that the healthcare proxy appoints someone (usually the parents) to make medical decisions if the young adult child is unable to communicate with doctors. The HIPAA release allows the named healthcare proxy/agent to access medical records and talk to the doctors.
The purpose of the health care proxy and the HIPAA release is not to remove control or decision-making from the young adult child but to have these documents just in case the child/young adult is unable to communicate with the doctor.
Again, this goes without saying that not all parent/child relationships are healthy, so it’s up to the young adult child to decide whether to name their parents in the documents, or even execute the documents at all.
Navigating this part of parenthood is tricky. Walking the line between helping your young adult child and letting them take responsibility for these things is hard. But Ladimer Law can at least help get these documents done quickly and easily!
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