Get our free eNewsletter

Karp Law Blog Feed

Veterans Choice Program falls short of the mark

Our veterans have not always gotten what they deserve from our nation. With Memorial Day here, it's time we recommit ourse... more »

How will you pay for long-term care?

Genworth just released its latest analysis of long-term care costs. Nationally, the current median cost for a semi-private... more »

WASP veterans win another war

The Women Airforce Service Pilots helped the United States win World War II. More than half a century later, they have w... more »

Sumner Redstone's competency trial dismissed, but the saga continues

Who do your sympathies rest with in the legal brouhaha swirling around ailing media tycoon Sumner Redstone? Are you in... more »

Contact Us Online

Social Media Karp Law Blog Twitter Facebook

Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 was enacted to protect patients' privacy rights. HIPAA language should be included in your Health Care Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney and other documents. Here's why:

HIPAA calls for fines and even imprisonment for medical providers if they release information about patients to unauthorized parties. While protecting privacy, HIPAA can make it more difficult, and often impossible, for people to obtain medical information about loved ones.  Medical providers include not only doctors, but also physical therapists, pharmacists, nurses  -- anyone in the medical services business.  Everyone's for privacy, of course, but incidents have occurred around the country, including Florida, in which relatives cannot even confirm if someone has been admitted to a hospital. 

If you become disabled, your successor trustee under your Living Trust can act on your behalf only if your health care provider attests that you are in fact, incapacitated.  Obviously, your documents will need to authorize release of that information to your agent or trustee under HIPAA guidelines. In the absence of such written authorization, your physicians may be unwilling to release medical information about you. In such a scenario, court proceedings would have to be initiated in order to substantiate your incapacity.  

In order to ensure that the people of your choice are authorized to get the information they need and can make informed decisions on your behalf, your Health Care Power of Attorney (Health Care Surrogate) should include specific reference to HIPAA.  The language should authorize the release of information to your health care agents. If you have a Revocable Living Trust, this too should include HIPAA language.  This will put more "legal muscle" into your wishes and ensure that your agents can act on your behalf. 

Please contact the elder law attorneys at The Karp Law Firm to have your health care documents prepared or if you have existing advance directives that need to be updated for HIPAA compliance.