Ep. 210 – Why You Need a HIPAA Authorization
In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon and Murs discuss why you need a HIPAA form as part of your overall estate plan package. A HIPAA form is a simple document to put together and is recognized for protecting your personal health information, giving you privacy.
Listen in to learn how your HIPAA Authorization can connect with your living will or health care power of attorney for information to be shared. You will also learn about the medical information that can be released to an authorized person per HIPAA standards.
In this episode, find out:
- How the HIPAA Authorization form protects your personal health information and medical history.
- How your HIPAA Authorization form can connect with your living will or health care power of attorney.
- Why the HIPAA form should be connected to the living will so that the information can be shared.
- Have your adult kids sign a HIPAA form to give you permission to access their medical data.
- The elements of the health information to be released by HIPAA standards.
- The information included when setting up the HIPAA authorization form.
- “The purpose of a HIPAA Authorization is to protect your medical information from being given to someone without your consent or permission.”– Radon Stancil
- “The HIPAA form is there to authorize or give consent for medical professionals to be able to give information about your medical history, and it also gives you the ability to request information.”– Murs Tariq
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Here’s the full full transcript:
|Welcome everyone to the Secure Your Retirement podcast. Today’s topic is about HIPAA forms, and we’re going to kind of break down why we think that this is such a necessary part of your overall estate plan package. We always think about, “I need to have a will. I may need a trust. I need a healthcare power of attorney. I need a durable power of attorney.” But we always say a part of that package should also be a HIPAA form. And so we’re going to take you through why we think this is so important and some different applications as to why this is so important.
|So if you don’t know what we’re talking about and you say, “Wait a minute, I don’t know if I have a HIPAA form,” this is going to be a very key podcast because it’s going to help you to understand why it’s so important, and it’s not a difficult document to put together, but it is, in our belief system, essential that you have one. So if you don’t, by the end of this episode, we are going to tell you that you should have one, and we can help you with maybe guiding you on how to get that, the easiest way to get that. So let’s just kind of start off with what is a HIPAA form? What does that even mean? Maybe understanding even what it stands for. I’m going to let you kind of talk a little bit about that, Murs, and give us that little bit of an overview.
|The HIPAA, and it’s spelled H-I-P-A-A. It’s a term that’s thrown around usually when you’re in a doctor’s office, a dental office, any type of medical facility, and you’re usually signing off on these forms around HIPAA and release and all these different things. And a lot of times you don’t really know what that is, but HIPAA, to go back, it’s the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It’s a federal law, and it made some changes to really the healthcare side of the world. One of the major things that we would recognize it for is your personal health information being generally protected. And so the privacy that comes with going and seeing a doctor and making sure that information stays private to that doctor unless there are reasons to give out that information. So you can authorize to have information released about your medical results or your medical history or, in situations by law, it could be requested.
|And so you can’t really protect it on that side if it’s by law. But what we’re really talking about here is your authorization to release medical information or medical history, and that’s important. We don’t really think about it that much because we think of, “Well, if we’re in the hospital and something happens, well, they’re going to have to tell someone, right?” Well, they can’t just tell anybody. And that’s what this form is for. And it’s called the HIPAA authorization. So now that we have an understanding of what HIPAA is and why it’s protected and for good reason, Radon, why don’t you take us through now, what is this HIPAA authorization that we’re going to talk about today?
|Ultimately, there’s two major forms of this. One of these could be going back to insurance portability. “I’m going from one place to another, and am I okay with the release of this information or do I understand in order for me to move from one insurance provider to another that I need to have that?” Well, that’s important, but that’s not really the purpose of what we’re trying to discuss today. The second part of this though is that the purpose of it is to protect your medical data information from being given to someone without your consent or knowledge. Now, you might be thinking, “If I go into the hospital, I’m going to be able to talk to my doctor. I’m going to have no problems here.” So think about this though, in the context of an estate plan, and a part of me making sure that I’m protected is that really we’re connecting this conversation with your living will or your healthcare power of attorney.
|So that’s really kind of what this connection is and understanding that I might be in a scenario where I can’t communicate and I’ve got a medical directive that is giving someone else the ability to act as my healthcare agent to carry out my wishes. And then that person may need to get medical information to be able to help make a decision on your behalf. And if I’ve locked that up, meaning I’ve not given a release, then they could be prohibited from getting my information. So think about this as being connected to the living will. Now you think about it, there’s things that can happen. I’m just going to share some stories. We’ve had a few instances here, especially in the last year or so, where individuals got sick. One person was completely fine one day, the next day they had a massive stroke, could not communicate.
|Their stroke could not even make any facial movements. Even anything about any of their muscle system was gone. So here they were. Now, what we did know, at least the doctors were saying, “This person had the mental capacity to make decisions but could not communicate it.” So now the wife is the one that’s trying to communicate with the doctors about what she felt her husband’s wishes were, but he was lacking some of that. He didn’t have some of that stuff in place. So now she’s trying to go off of what she thinks his wishes are, not what maybe his real wishes were. That’s why this is so important that the living will is in place. But also now she might be, if the doctors are saying, “Here’s some medical scenarios, or here’s what we need to think through,” if there was no HIPAA form there for her, that would release information, then that could restrict what the doctors could give to them.
|So what we are trying to do in this particular scenario is make it so that in a stressful situation, there’s not more stress. In our healthcare power of attorney, we could list multiple people, one person, that would be able to help with making these medical decisions or assisting. So now think about this. Go back to this particular person that I was telling you about. They have grown children, and by the way, she was completely stressed out because of this situation. So had there been a living will and then a HIPAA form that was releasing information that could go to her and maybe her daughter who they trusted. Now both of them would be able to talk with the doctors openly and help make decisions because they would have access to the medical information. They would have the living will in place saying what the wishes of the person is, and it would’ve all been very, very smooth if in the situation though, he couldn’t do that.
|That is just kind of giving us the basis here. The HIPAA form should be connected to the living will so that the information can be shared. I’m going to give you one other scenario, by the way. I learned this one by working with the estate planning attorney that I was working with at the time. I have a son who was turning 18, and he reminded me when your children become of age, become an adult, even as a parent, if I were to show up at the hospital, let’s say that they were away at school or they were wherever they were, and they got put into a scenario where they’ve been in a wreck and they now are in a medical emergency and I were to show up. Even though I was the parent, that that hospital would be restricted on sharing medical information with me because my son is an adult.
|And so he said, he tells all of his clients, make sure that when your kids turn 18, they’re going off to college, they’re doing whatever they’re doing, make sure that you have a HIPAA form. They sign a HIPAA form saying that they would like to have this permission given to their parents. So we had a HIPAA form written up, making his mom and myself able to get that information. And we carry that with us now. So if we ever had that at scenario, we would be able to do it. Now, by the way, now I’ve got a daughter, 17, turning 18 this year. We’ll have to go through it with her as well. If you are listening to this and you don’t have maybe a child that’s in that situation, but maybe a grandchild or someone who you know who’s approaching the age of 18, a HIPAA form is key. All right, let’s kind of move on over into what is being shared throughout this whole idea of the HIPAA form and kind of go through a little bit of that scenario, Murs.
|The HIPAA form in general is there to be able to authorize and give consent to be able to the medical professionals to give information about your medical history, medical situation. It also gives you the ability to request information. So it’s on both sides. Sometimes the question comes up of, “Well, are they sharing every little piece of information about me?” And the answer is no. One, there’s a section on the HIPAA that’s all about your personal information. So socials, dates of birth, all that really, really private stuff that is still protected, and that’s not something that is going to be given out. They’re on the form, but it’s not something that your son, daughter, or whoever you give this to, can’t just say, “I need their social,” those types of elements are protected. And then how medical professionals operate in the HIPAA standard is that the information that is released is, it has to be deemed minimum necessary.
|So they only have to give you the bare bones as far as what you need to be able to make a decision or what you need to be able to talk through a situation. They don’t need to go all the way back through every little doctor’s visit and everything like that that’s recorded. They just have to give you what they deem as minimum necessary. It’s really not taking a deep dive into your medical history. Sometimes we get the question of, “Well, what all is included on this HIPAA authorization?” And it’s a pretty straightforward type of document that does not need to be notarized or witnessed. Whereas a power of attorney, wills, those need to be notarized and witnessed typically.
|But this one is really just a signature and a date of your wishes. And what’s included in it is a description of how you want this form to be used, the names of the people that you want to be able to use this and be able to access your medical information. And really then a timeframe of how long this form is active. So you could have it for a short period of time, or you could say, “There is no expiration date to this form.” And then obviously your signature and date. And lastly, the ability to revoke these authorizations as well. So you can have that written in there so that you can take it away or you can remove names or however you want it. It’s very flexible in how it’s all set up. Any other questions I’m missing there, Radon?
|I think you got them all. I think the key part within what’s in the document is really you just stating your wishes, naming the person that you want to have information released to, and just realizing that this is not just your… When you do it, like would go back to an insurance thing and say, “Yeah, I’m okay with you sending my medical records over.” And I think you mentioned this, I just want to reiterate it. This is you’re authorizing for a person to get what is needed. So it’s not like the doctor has to go through everything in your medical history, all the privacy things that had nothing to do with the particular case you’re in. It’s simply saying, “Hey, we’ve got this particular medical situation going on right now. What information do I need from the medical history to help me make a good decision today? Because think about it, I am trying to make a decision on the behalf of the person that’s been affected.”
|So if this were me and my wife or me and my children, I am just trying to make a decision, talk with the doctors to help make a medical decision for that person. I’m not trying to learn everything about their entire medical history. There’s no need for me to know all that. So just keep that in mind. Also, remember that if you do a HIPAA form, remember Murs said, “It can be revoked.” So let’s say I named somebody that I decide later on, I don’t want to have them on my HIPAA form, and there could be, I guess a lot of different reasons for that, but I just want to remove it. I can just revoke that HIPAA form, and it’s no longer needed, and so therefore it’s not valid any longer.
|So just keep that in mind. We’re not asking or even recommending that you do this and give all this stuff away and never be able to deal with it again. But I just want to reiterate what I said before. If you don’t have a HIPAA form, we believe you need one. And so if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, “How do I even get one of these? What’s the easiest way to do it?” Then I would recommend that you reach out to us and we’ll kind of give you some tools that can help you make sure that you have these forms in place. Obviously, you can talk to your estate planning attorney. They certainly can help you set these forms up as well. We have a couple of resources to assist you. So if you do want to reach out to us, you can go to our website, go to the top right-hand corner, click on schedule call, mine and Murs’ schedules will come up.
|We’re glad to hop on a call with you and kind of walk you through these steps. We just think it’s really, really important. This is not even something that Murs and I, we don’t charge for this. This is just purely saying, “Hey, can we help make sure that everything’s in place?” We’ve seen some cases this year that has made us go, “Man, I just wish we would’ve been able to talk about this more.” And so it’s given us this mission to say, “That’s what we want to do.” So also, remember, there’s a blog written on this. You can go to the website and we have all this information written out for you. I hope this has been helpful. We’ll talk to you again next Monday.