What is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, more commonly referred to as HIPAA, is a federal law that protect patients’ privacy rights by strictly limiting the people who health care professionals and facilities can disclose a patients’ medical information to, and with who they can discuss a patients’ treatment with. Although HIPAA is a federal law, it applies equally across North Carolina to all medical professionals, including health care providers, pharmacies, nursing facilities, and insurance companies, as well as other health care-related entities. If health care providers fail to abide by HIPAA laws, they may face sanctions, monetary fines, and even law suits. Because of this, health care providers are hesitant to release medical records to anyone except the patient.
What is a North Carolina HIPAA Release?
A HIPAA Release is a legal document that allows your health care providers to release your medical information to the persons you specify in your HIPAA Release. More specifically, a North Carolina HIPAA release authorizes your health care provider, including any physician, dentist, health plan, hospital, clinic, laboratory, or pharmacy, to give, disclose, and release, without restriction, all of your identifiable health information and medical records regarding any past, present, or future medical or mental health condition, to the specific people designated in the Release.
Do I Really Need a North Carolina HIPAA Release?
Yes, a HIPAA Release is an important document in any estate plan, especially if your wish is for your family, friends, loved ones, and other representatives to have access to your medical records in the event you are hospitalized and/or incapacitated.
From a practical standpoint, a HIPAA Release may be beneficial to you if:
- You want your physician to be permitted to tell your spouse about your condition, either in person or by phone, while you are unconscious as the result of an emergency surgery or situation.
- You want your doctor to be allowed to discuss your prescription drugs with your caregiver who calls your doctor with a question about the right dosage.
- You want your hospital to be authorized to discuss your bill with your children who have a question about the charges.
- You want your health care providers to give prescription drugs, medical supplies, x-rays, and other health care items to a family member, friend, or other person you send to pick them up.
- You want health care personnel to be able to talk about your health status while your are in a hospital or other medical or long-term care facility.
Who should I Give a Copy of My HIPAA Release To?
Once you have executed your North Carolina HIPAA Release, you need to make sure that certain persons and entities are aware that you have executed the Release. Failing to do so may result in your health care providers not knowing your wishes as it pertains to your medical information. While there are many persons you may make aware of your HIPAA Release, at the very least you need to ensure the following are notified.
- Your Primary Care Physician (PCP), and any other doctors you see regularly.
- Your Durable Power of Attorney.
- The executors named in your last will and testament.
- The trustees named in your trust.
Additionally, it is advisable to keep a copy of your North Carolina HIPAA Release with every copy of your Health Care Power of Attorney.
Contact Browning & Long, PLLC to Make a HIPAA Release Part of Your Estate Plan
We always recommend that clients execute a HIPAA Release at the same time they execute their other North Carolina estate planning documents. Not doing so often can lead to medical providers refusing to release information to anyone other than a patient. If you would like to make sure that your family, friends, loved ones, and other representatives will be able to access your medical records and remain informed as to all your medical information, it is imperative to have a HIPAA release. Contact our North Carolina estate planning attorneys today at (980) 207-3355, or contact us online, to get personalized advice on how a HIPAA Release can benefit you.