Ask The Expert: More About Healthcare Directives

By Jon L. Ten Haagen, CFP ®

Last issue we discussed the healthcare directives and why they are not just for older people. Now, we will give you the details of what the HIPAA authorization, medical power of attorney and a durable power of attorney are:

HIPAA Authorization: The privacy rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act — is a permission slip. This gives permission for healthcare providers to give your healthcare information to people you specify in writing. If an underage person signs this document in advance, it would be sufficient for parents to get information from the hospital about the situation with their injured child. The HIPAA form does not have to disclose all medical information — a youngster can leave out sensitive information, such as that pertaining to sex, drugs, mental health or other details they want to keep out. This form, if not combined with other legal documentation, does not have to be notarized or witnessed.

Medical Power of Attorney: A signed Medical POA lets you appoint an ‘agent’ to make medical decisions for you when you are incapacitated and or cannot make these decisions for yourself. In a lot of states the HIPAA authorization is rolled into a standard medical POA form. Each state may have different laws governing medical POA forms so be careful and check your states requirements.

To be clear, a medical POA can go by other names, such as healthcare power of attorney, designation of healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney for health care. There are a few types of advanced directives such as a living will, which clarifies your clarified your wishes such as in a life-or-death scenario in case you are unable to communicate your wishes. In a lot of states the living will language can be created into a hybrid document including the HIAA release and the medical POA.

Durable Power of Attorney, different from Power of Attorney, is one more piece of the puzzle. Young adult children can consider appointing a durable power of attorney, which gives the appointed designated person, usually a parent, to do the necessary decisions when the child is not capable. Consider this: the young adult is traveling overseas, perhaps with a school trip, the designated person can step in if necessary. They also have the power to access bank accounts, pay bills and sign tax returns. Again, A Durable POA can be different in each state so check in advance. The medical POA can in some states be included in a Durable POA. As you can see the Durable POA is sweeping in its authority. Be well educated before you release the authority and it goes without says to definitely give the power to anyone you do not trust.

I would suggest you sit with the family attorney and become fully knowledgeable before you give these authorities to just anyone.

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Thank you for your readership and we wish all a Happy Thanksgiving shared with family, loved ones and friends. Give thanks to our troops who are providing us with the wonderful freedoms we have.

Editor’s note: This article is a follow up to the article “Healthcare Directives: Not Just For Elderly” published in the Nov. 9, 2017 issue of Huntington Weekly.