The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was created in 1996 by the United States Congress for the privacy of your health information. The Act requires that your health care providers have from you a signed HIPAA release form before they can release any of your health care information. Without a HIPAA release form signed by you in their file, your health care provider is prohibited from releasing to anyone but you your health care information.
Additionally, unless you have provided a signed HIPAA release form, your health care providers are prohibited from discussing any aspect of your medical information with anyone who is not directly involved in your care.
Scenario 1: Your mother has been hospitalized, and the medical bills start accumulating. You notice that the insurance company, for some unknown reason, is denying the claims. The issue appears to be whether or not your mother’s insurance policy was terminated prior to her hospitalization. Your mother is in the hospital, in no condition to deal with an insurance nightmare; however, her medical providers are demanding proof of insurance. You decide to step in, and contact the insurance company. Politely (or impolitely) you are advised by the insurance company that without a signed HIPAA authorization from your mother, they cannot provide you with any of her information.
Scenario 2: Your son (18 years old) graduates from high school, and decides to attend college out of state. During the first semester, your son calls you at 3:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. He started running a 104 degree temperature, and he has been admitted to the hospital. He doesn’t feel good, and he has no idea what the doctors in the emergency room told him. You immediately call the hospital and ask to speak to the nurse on duty, only to be advised that because your son is an adult (over the age of 18, and considered an adult in that state), no one can speak with you regarding your son’s medical condition.
Thus, the importance of signed HIPAA medical authorizations is not determined by age alone. Together we will discuss the HIPAA law so that you can make an informed decision as to the members in your family who should have signed authorizations in their medical files.