HIPAA - Part II What are Advance Health Care Directives and What do they have to do with HIPAA?

April 10, 2009 by Scott C. Soady

A document called an Advance Health Care Directive appoints a family member or friend to make health care decisions for you if you become physically or mentally unable to make them for yourself. The person you name is called your “Agent” and you usually name back up Agents as well in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to act. These agents will carry out your wishes concerning life support, medication, nutrition, and other treatment options. In the document called the Advance Health Care Directive, you can set forth whatever provisions and perameters you want concerning these types of issues. You can also specify your preferences for burial, cremation, and funeral arrangements and set forth your wishes for organ donation.

It is important that your agent have access to your medical information. As we indicated in the last blog, under HIPAA and CMIA, your medical information is private and a release must be signed by you to allow your agent to access the information. Having the appropriate HIPAA language in your Advance Health Care Directive is important.

The estate planning attorneys at Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation always include an Advance Health Care Directive in the Revocable Living Trust package for trust clients. If you need such a document (or your adult children need one) we can also prepare them separately. If you have a trust already in place, make sure that this document is included with your trust and also check to see if it contains the HIPAA language. Many trusts which were prepared several years ago may not have the HIPAA language. You also may have a similar document that was drafted years ago called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or a Living Will. These documents also probably do not have the HIPAA language.

The language which is necessary refers to HIPAA and CMIA and gives your agent the authority to obtain, use and disclose your health information and medical record so that your agent can deal with health care providers who are providing health care services to you. If you need help determining if your documents have the appropriate language, call us or email us for assistance.