The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established national standards to protect the privacy of patients’ health care information. The Privacy Rule took effect in 2003. To put it as simply as possible, the Privacy Rule mandated that health care providers and insurance companies who released the medical information of patients could be subject to civil fines, criminal penalties, even imprisonment. While most of us would agree that our medical information should be kept private, HIPAA is an example of a well-intentioned law that has resulted in unfortunate consequences for patients and their families. Why? The penalties associated with violating HIPAA often makes health care providers extremely cautious about sharing medical information with anyone except their patient. This can include family members, spouses and children.

In effect, your loved ones might not be able to get information about your condition, or be allowed to visit you in the hospital, in a medical emergency. You can imagine the frustration and stress this situation would cause for your loved ones. At the same time, you could be denied the love and support of the people who matter to you in life at the very time you need them most.

Fortunately, there is an estate planning tool capable of helping you and your family avoid this scenario. A HIPAA authorization allows you to specify individuals authorized to have access to your medical information. With a properly drafted and implemented HIPAA authorization, care providers will be far more likely to share information about your condition to the loved ones of your choosing in an emergency medical situation. And, allow them to visit you in your hour of need.

Contact us today for experienced legal counsel in creating and implementing your HIPAA authorization as part of your comprehensive estate plan. And enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a plan in place for the future.

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