What are HIPPA forms and why do you need them?

What is known as “HIPPA” was enacted by Congress as the Health Insurance Protection and Portability Act of 1996.  42 USC 1320d-6. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/1320d-6  It is designed to protect the confidentialiy of a patient’s medical information. The extensive federal regulations are found at 42 USC part 160. http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/privacyrule/

A side effect of all of this good confidentiality is that  family members who are actively involved in a patient’s care can find that they just can’t get any information when they call. I ran into that at a major NJ hospital when  my aging mother was admitted for surgery. They needed the doctor to sign a document authorizing me to read the chart, and they had no form for my mother to sign to give me access. When my father was in a rehabilitation facility in NYC and could only get around in a wheelchair, he had to be taken down to the medical records office at the far corner of the basement floor of the building to find the right clerk who, if she was actually there, could give him the form to sign to give me access to information. It was ridiculous.

Attached is the HIPPA form that we give to our clients to use when they sign their estate plans.   HIPAA Form                It can be signed by the patient or by their designated legal representative. You can sign these forms and give them to every doctor, hospital, clinic, or facility you are treated at. Although they will give you a form to sign in which you acknowledge that they won’t share your information with anyone except what’s allowed by law, THIS form actually tells them who they ARE authorized to share your information with. At the top you will see a line to list the names of the people you authorize the health care provider to share information with. Put their phone numbers as well. You need to indicate the purpose (“to help me”) and whether it has any expiration date.

The HIPPA release is NOT a health care proxy. Unlike a health care proxy or power of attorney, it does not give anyone decision-making authority over you.  It doesn’t appoint a decision-maker. It is not an advance directive or “living will” or any kind of instruction directive. It merely cuts through the red tape so that your first responders and involved family members can get the information they need directly from the health care providers. If the patient is already incapacitated, the health cae proxy can sign these releases on the patient’s behalf. If a legal Guardian has been appointed by the court, they can sign these releases if they want to give another close person access to the information.

Whether managing your own health care or someone else’s, making sure that all members of the “team” can talk to each other is crucial. The HIPPA form is one of the arrows in this quiver.


For legal advice on elder care and health care crisis planning, call for appointment … 732-382-6070

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