When you’re receiving health care, you want to know that your PHI, or protected health information, is secure. Even so, there are times when you’ll want or need a HIPAA release. Whether you’re looking into estate planning or are dealing with a medical emergency, having a HIPAA authorization in place is vital.
What Is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 set up national standards for the protection of patients’ health information. In essence, this law keeps PHI from being disclosed without a patient’s knowledge or consent.
This act even applies to close family members and partners. Violations can result in steep fines or even jail time, so healthcare providers tend to strictly adhere to this law.
The act is a net positive for patients and keeps their protected health information safe and secure. With that said, there are provisions in place for PHI to be shared with designated agents should that access be granted by the patient in question.
Why Do I Need a HIPAA Release?
There are many reasons why a patient would want to set up a HIPAA release. One of the most common has to do with medical emergencies. In the event of incapacitation due to illness or injury, it’s imperative that you have an agent in place who can make medical and legal decisions for you. With a HIPAA release, a healthcare provider has permission to share designated information with someone who is advocating for their patient.
Another common reason for a HIPAA authorization has to do with estate planning. Even if you’re not currently dealing with a medical emergency, you should consider setting up a HIPAA release. Most people assume that their partner or next of kin can automatically make medical or legal decisions for them should they fall ill, but that’s unfortunately not the case.
What Needs to Be in a HIPAA Release?
There are a few key things that need to be listed in any HIPAA authorization. These include:
- The exact PHI that’s allowed to be disclosed.
- Who can disclose the information.
- Who’s allowed to receive this PHI.
- The reason for disclosing.
- The expiration date for disclosing.
- The signature of the patient and the date of the signature.
Other HIPAA Release Facts You Should Know
HIPAA releases are not as well known as other estate planning tools such as living wills or power of attorney documents. Here are a few additional facts you should know about HIPAA authorizations:
- A HIPAA release is not the same as a health care surrogate designation. A health care surrogate designation authorizes the care provider to release PHI to a designated agent, but only in certain situations. The attending physician still needs to certify that the patient is incapacitated. Along with this, it’s common for insurance companies to only recognize a HIPAA release, and not a health care surrogate designation.
- You can revoke a HIPAA release at any time. This revocation needs to be in writing, and it takes effect once received by the entity in question. A HIPAA release can be (and very often is) temporary in nature.
- It can be as general or specific as you want it to be. Another advantage a HIPAA authorization has over a health care surrogate designation is specificity and agency. You have complete control over the PHI that is shared, who it’s shared with, and when it’s shared.
A comprehensive estate plan needs to include a HIPAA authorization.
Sawyer & Sawyer, P.A. Can Help
Get in touch with an Orlando, FL, firm that can help with all of your estate plan needs. If you’re looking to craft a HIPAA release, our dedicated team is here for you. Call us today at (407) 909-1900, and we’ll get started on preparing you for the future.