Before your children leave for college

In today’s age of privacy concerns, you may find yourself unable to access information about your college-aged child in the event he or she is seriously injured. Because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), hospitals and doctors’ offices are hesitant to release health care information on anyone over age 18 without proper documentation. In fact, the Internet is rife with stories of parents who called about their hospitalized child and were denied any information about the status of their son or daughter.

Therefore, we recommend any college-aged child execute a durable power of attorney, advance directive for health care, and a HIPAA release naming his or her parent/custodian as their agent because these documents ensure you have access to your child’s health care information.

The durable power of attorney allows you to conduct business on behalf of your child if he or she becomes disabled or terminally ill. The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care gives you the authority to make your child’s health care decisions under similar circumstances. Finally, a HIPAA release will allow you to access your child’s health care records.

Even if your child is covered by your health insurance, you are not automatically entitled to his or her health care information. A HIPAA release will ensure hospital employees will speak to you if your child was hospitalized under less serious circumstances (i.e. his or her condition is not serious enough to trigger the Advance Directive for Health Care).

Please contact our office for further information. The information contained above is for general information purposes only.