By Jon L. Ten Haagen, CFP ®
It is a nice, crisp fall day and you are just back from a nice walk around the neighborhood. As you walk in the door, the phone is ringing. You pick it up. It’s is a call from your college student son’s roommate. They are out of town, 310 miles away.
He says, “They are rushing Freddie to the hospital by ambulance and he has severe continuous chest pain.”
Your first reaction is, “Oh my God,” and your mind races with the worst scenario, conjuring up the worst.
In a panic, you pick up the phone and call the hospital ER for details and his condition. What you hear on the phone is a question to you: “How old is your son?” When you mention 18 years old, the nurse on the other end of the line tells you that you have no right to talk to the doctor.
The nurse was acting within her scope? Yes, she was. The hospital chose not to discuss the son’s medical condition because of HIPAA, the privacy rule of the Health insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Once a child reached the age of 18, the child is considered an adult and therefore is a stranger to you legally. This is true in most states; in a few the age is older, usually 21.
You, as a parent, have no more right to receive medical information on your legal-aged child than you do to get information about a stranger off the street. It does not matter if your child is covered by your health insurance.
The hospital or medical provider can disclose information in the situation, if they feel it is in the best interests of the parties involved, however, they often go with the caution of the patient privacy, particularly if they don’t know the family member(s).
How do you prevent this from happening? By getting a signed legal document or two signed and in your home folder. I am amazed at how many people think about an older family member when it comes to health care. It is time all families protect so they never go thru the torment of the call and feeling helpless.
Important documents you should have signed and filed. There are three: HIPAA authorization, medical power of attorney, and a durable power of attorney, so that a parent or other authorized trusted adult can have access during a medical emergency.
In my next article, which is scheduled to be published Nov. 23, we will go into detail on each of these important documents.
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As always we stand by ready to try and answer your financial questions. Thank you for your continued interest and readership.
Huntington’s Jon L. Ten Haagen, CFP, runs Ten Haagen Financial Services, Inc., a full-service independent financial planning firm, and he is here to answer your questions. In this bi-monthly column, Ten Haagen will answer your financial questions and help you with his expert financial advice. Don’t be shy, our expert is here for you, so feel free to ask away! Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org today, and let our expert help you.
*Ten Haagen is an Investment Advisor Representative offering securities and advisory services offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc., member of FINRA/SIPC, and a registered investment advisor. He is also an active community member, serving on several nonprofit boards and as executive officer of the Greater Huntington Boating Council.
**BACK IN HUNTINGTON: The offices of Ten Haagen Financial Services, Inc. have moved back to 191 New York Ave., Huntington. Friends and clients are welcome to stop by, check out the new office and share a cup of coffee with the expert!