Maintaining the privacy and control of your health care is important, but so is ensuring that decisions about your health are in capable hands in the event you can’t make them yourself.
If you would like to give someone the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf or have access to your private health information, you must designate them as your authorized representative. It’s important that you do so before you need it. It’s difficult for your family to “get” this authority when they suddenly realize that you can’t handle your affairs. The documents you will need to set this up will depend on what level of access or control you would like them to have.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
A power of attorney (POA) for health care is a legal document that allows a person you designate a personal representative to make decisions about your health care in the event you cannot legally make those decisions for yourself. A POA often includes instructions concerning life support, organ and tissue donation, and whether you elect to have certain medical procedures performed, such as CPR and kidney dialysis. A POA may also provide the power to move you from one medical facility to another.
Here are some key things to keep in mind:
- Signing a POA does not deprive you of control over your personal affairs. It is a contingency document that becomes a powerful instrument only when it is needed.
- You must set up a POA for yourself. If you didn’t establish a POA ahead of time, a court will appoint a guardian or conservator. And when a court does this, neither you nor your family has any control over who is appointed.
- Choosing someone to hold your power of attorney and specifying that it will operate even if you lose capacity ensures that you have a plan in place for administering your financial and personal affairs if you are ever unable to do so.
- You can set up a POA on your own, but given the complexities (it must satisfy state requirements, and it will need to be notarized and witnessed), it may be prudent to have an attorney draw one up for you.
HIPAA Authorization for Disclosure of Health Information
The HIPAA Authorization for Disclosure of Health Information (also known as the HIPAA Authorization form) gives a person you designate access to your medical information and the right to be present during discussions about your medical treatment. The form does not need to be notarized, and it does not give anyone the power to make health care decisions for you. Your health insurer must have a copy of your HIPAA Authorization form on file before they can speak to your designated representative about anything related to your benefits, account, or health information.
When it comes to your future health and well-being, a little planning can go a long way. Learn more about Your Rights Under HIPAA.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.