Off to College? Don’t Forget Your HIPAA!

The hot and lazy days of summer are almost over; parents are thinking about back-to-school sales, kids are making the most of their final days of freedom, and college freshmen are getting ready to embark on their first year of adult-hood. Most of these college students have a list (whether mental or physical) of all the things they’ll need as they leave the nest for the first time, but most of these lists will be missing two key items: A Healthcare Directive and a HIPAA Authorization Form.

You may be wondering why a college student needs estate planning documents—aren’t those just for older, established people? Not at all.

Most incoming college students are now (or will soon be) 18, and considered adults under the law. This means that hospitals and medical personnel are no longer required to ask the parent’s permission before performing medical procedures. In fact, once your child is 18 health care providers are no longer required to share information with the parents at all. I still remember when my son turned 18, his healthcare providers refused to disclose any information until I provided them with the necessary legal documents.

Most college students (and parents and grandparents) are unaware of this side-effect of turning 18, and parents and children alike can run into frustrating roadblocks should an accident occur. You can avoid these roadblocks by simply having your young adult execute the two simple documents mentioned in this blog post.

A Healthcare Directive (including a Living Will) can be an in depth document or a very simple one, but the most important part for your new 18 year old will be the nomination of a healthcare agent. A healthcare agent is the person who is the healthcare advocate who will make medical decisions for your child if he or she is unable to make them alone.

A HIPPA Authorization Form addresses the issue of security and privacy of health data. In a HIPAA Authorization form your child can list the people who have permission to receive information about his or her medical records and status.

For a fledgling 18 year old these two documents are of the utmost importance, and with the right help, they are easy to execute. Don’t wait until it’s too late; make sure your young adult has these documents completed before they leave the nest.