Many people ask “Do I need a HIPAA Authorization?” or they may never have even heard of one. But it is one of the five estate planning documents that everyone should have (the others are a will, power of attorney, medical power of attorney and living will). Along the same lines of a medical power of attorney, a HIPAA authorization concerns your private medical information.
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and it’s a federal law which protects the privacy of your healthcare information. It tells healthcare providers and insurance companies to not share your healthcare information without your permission. They are not even allowed to share this information with close family members without your proper authorization – not even a spouse, parent or sibling.
Now, a well-written medical power of attorney would give permission to your doctor to share your medical information, but this would only be for specific situations where your doctor has certified that you are incompetent. There could be times where you want someone to have access to your medical information before the situation gets to that point or even after you have gotten past the point of being certified as incompetent. On top of that, because of the potential harsh penalties some insurance companies still may not share your medical information with your designated medical power of attorney agent unless there is also a HIPAA authorization. The laws are written so strictly that they may not want to chance getting a huge fine or possibly even going to jail! So to help make sure that your doctor or insurance company isn’t afraid to share your medical information it is always best to also have a HIPAA authorization along with your medical power of attorney.