Our children are growing up in so many ways: they’re going off to college or into the work force, where they will gain valuable life skills and learn important lessons. Most of them are also going become adults, by which I mean, they’ll be 18.  While your children may be slipping into their future without much help (save tuition expenses) from Mom and Dad or a legal guardian, they are still, very much, in your care. All parents need to know about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (commonly known as HIPAA).

Under this act, when your child attains the age of 18, he or she is legally recognized as an adult.  From that time forward, college medical centers and indeed, all medical practitioners, facilities and hospitals, are prohibited from releasing his or her medical information to you. While you might think you want to give your child more space and privacy as he or she grows into adulthood, you may also want to be privy to his or her health challenges.

In order for medical information to be shared with you, your child must sign a HIPAA Release along with a Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) appointing you as health care proxy. These documents will not only facilitate the release of otherwise private information regarding your child’s health, it will allow you to make or assist your child in making informed decisions based on past medical history which he or she may not remember (whooping cough at five). An important detail to remember when creating a HCPOA for your child, is to use the form, if any, mandated by the state where your child is domiciled, and not the state where he or she is attending college.  Even if you’re looking forward to some time without the kids, you also want to make sure they’re healthy and safe!

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