But what exactly is HIPAA, and why is HIPAA authorization now a cornerstone of estate planning? We answer these questions and more below. Altogether, HIPAA authorization is just as important as a living will and a healthcare proxy if you’re ever incapacitated.
The attorneys at Anderson Estate Planning provide knowledgeable assistance with estate planning and asset protection. Give us a call at (469) 207-1529 to book a consultation.
What Is HIPAA?
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It’s a federal law designed to safeguard your protected health information (PHI), which mainly consists of:
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Medical claims
In short, HIPAA forbids medical providers and insurance carriers from sharing a patient’s PHI with outside parties without the patient’s consent.
What Is HIPAA Authorization in Texas?
There may be times when you need to share your health information with family and loved ones. You may face serious health problems or even become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Therefore, you may want a loved one to make those decisions for you.
In other cases, you may want a third party, such as a health care agent or lawyer, to access your PHI. This party can then discuss a medical claim with your insurance company or health care provider on your behalf.
The HIPAA authorization enables these designated parties to access your health information. You can use this authorization to share your health information with just one person or multiple parties.
Why Is HIPAA Authorization Important?
A HIPAA authorization works in tandem with your living will and medical power of attorney. It permits those you’ve named as health proxies to receive your PHI from the covered entities that must normally comply with HIPAA. A HIPAA authorization can require a covered entity, such as a health care provider or health insurer, to release your information to authorized individuals.
Without this authorization, your loved ones can’t properly assess your health care needs with your medical team because they cannot access your PHI. However, once you’ve signed the authorization, you empower your loved ones to make informed choices on your behalf. Consequently, you protect yourself while saving your loved ones the anguish of having to second-guess your treatment choices.
How to Complete a HIPAA Authorization in Texas
To complete a HIPAA authorization, you should visit an estate planning attorney who can draw up the authorization to your specifications. Nonetheless, you should always include the following information in the authorization:
- A statement of purpose, or a description of which information you want disclosed
- The name of the person/party to whom you’re granting access to your health information
- A description of the reason you’re granting access to your health information
- An expiration date, if necessary (but it can exist in perpetuity)
- Your signature
Note that you don’t need to notarize a HIPAA authorization. You can also revoke your HIPAA authorization at any time, though you should express this revocation in writing.
What Is the Difference Between HIPAA Consent and HIPAA Authorization?
A HIPAA consent form is the simple HIPAA form you receive at a doctor’s office as part of your intake paperwork. This consent form permits your health care provider to disclose your PHI for treatment, payment, or health care operations purposes.
Conversely, a HIPAA authorization allows your medical provider to disclose your PHI to expressly named persons/parties. The authorization releases your medical records and other crucial health data to these parties.
Why Do I Need HIPAA Authorization if I Already Have a Medical Power of Attorney?
You may think HIPAA authorization is redundant if you already have a medical power of attorney or health care proxy. However, while a power of attorney allows someone to supervise your medical care, they cannot access your medical records without HIPAA authorization. Without this access, they can’t make informed decisions about your medical treatment.
Are There Situations Where HIPAA Authorization Does Not Apply?
Situations involving public health or legal demands override HIPAA authorization. For example, a doctor may have to disclose your PHI to certain parties if:
- You contract or become exposed to an infectious disease.
- Federal, state, or local authorities request your PHI.
Contact Us for Experienced Legal Advice in Texas
End-of-life planning may be a frightening prospect, but the attorneys at Anderson Estate Planning can help ensure you and your loved ones are optimally protected. Call our compassionate team today at (469) 207-1529.