HIPAA is an abbreviation for the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, with a new health information privacy law that went into effect on April 14, 2003. According to HIPAA laws, an authorization (“HIPAA form”) is necessary for your health care provider to share information with your loved ones about your health care records, condition and treatment.
Most health care providers have HIPAA forms available upon request, or even through their websites. It is important to remember, however, that these HIPAA forms typically apply only to that specific organization and that they are typically effective for a limited period of time. If you are treated by a different provider, or if your HIPAA form has expired, it will do you no good.
For obvious reasons, it is essential that the person who you designate as your health care agent (or even your financial agent) has access to your medical records when needed in order to make informed decisions on you behalf – or even to obtain a certificate of incapacity, the document that is needed before your power of attorney can be activated.
For additional information about HIPAA, you can visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) “HIPAA NOW” site at http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/hipaa. If you don’t have a general HIPAA form in place as part of your estate plan, you should contact your estate planning attorney.