Question 1: What is HIPAA, and Why is it Important?
Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act in 1996, commonly referred to under the acronym HIPAA. The law limits who has access to your personal medical records. Under the terms of the law, patients have the right to choose who can view their medical information, ensuring that medical and healthcare providers can share needed information in order to ensure your health and medical care.
Question 2: What is a HIPAA Release?
Because it’s your medical information, you can choose if you would like someone else to have permission to view it. The HIPAA release form is a document you can sign which recognizes your selection and allows your healthcare providers to share medical information with people who would otherwise be prohibited from viewing it.
Question 3: Why is the release needed as part of an estate plan?
Your estate plan will include legal documents which address what will happen in case you are medically incapacitated. Some of these, such as a health care power of attorney, will require someone else to make medical decisions for you. Without a HIPAA release, your doctors or health care providers may not share confidential medical information with the person you choose. The HIPAA release, therefore, is important because it ensures the medical decisions your health care agent makes will be knowledgeable.
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