Sep 9, 2014

Take HIPAA seriously - your doctors do

Just how serious is the medical community about HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act? According to an article in The New York Times of August 10, privacy concerns are responsible for the increasing disappearance of the traditional baby photos from obstetricians' offices. The article states: "Baby photos are a type of protected health information, no less than a medical chart, birth date or Social Security number... Even if a parent sends in the photo, it is considered private unless the parent also sends written authorization for its posting, which almost no one does." Read the  article in its entirety here. 

HIPAA is not just about babies, though. As a patient, you should take HIPAA as seriously as your health care providers do, and incorporate it into your legal planning. Here are some tips: 

Durable Power of Attorney: A HIPAA release must be part of your durable power of attorney if it is a "springing" power. That will enable your agent to obtain proof of your incapacity from your health care providers, so that he/she can manage your affairs. (NOTE: The Florida Power of Attorney Law changed on Oct. 1, 2011. A Springing Power of Attorney executed before that date continues to be honored. However, for documents signed on and after Oct. 1, 2011, only the Immediate Power of Attorney is valid in Florida.) 

Revocable Trust: Most revocable trusts also require medical certification of your incapacity in order for your successor trustee to take over your affairs for you. Therefore, a HIPAA release should also be part of this document. 

Health Care Power of Attorney: While this document enables one or more people to make your medical decisions if you cannot, it does not automatically approve the release of all privileged health care information to that individual(s). Therefore, your health care power of attorney should also include a HIPAA release. The release may be incorporated into the document, or included in a separate document. In my experience, Many Floridians are relying on old, pre-HIPAA documents, unaware of how their families may be impacted by the change in the law.

Our Certified Elder Law/Estate Planning attorneys can review your documents for HIPPA compliance and make sure you and your family are protected. Contact us here

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