A HIPAA Authorization, a Health Care Directive, and a Health Care Power of Attorney can easily be confused because all three have to do with your permission about your medical care and medical information.
Plus, both health care directives (aka living wills) and health care powers of attorney are known as “advance directives,” which only adds to the confusion.
But the three are very different. Read on to find out what these documents are and when you might need them.
A HIPAA Privacy Rule Authorization gives health care professionals and health insurance companies your explicit permission to release protected health information about you to designated parties.
Without this authorization, doctors and other health care providers cannot legally share your medical information in ways that violate the Privacy Rule of HIPAA. (Note that they do not need explicit authorization to share information about you with other medical professionals who are directly involved in your treatment or with family and friends.)
You may want to sign a HIPAA Authorization to give your health care providers the right to disclose your medical condition to a particular party. An example would be your adult child so he or she can discuss your health with a physician. Or an attorney if he or she needed your medical records in a personal injury case.
Health Care Directive
Known as a “living will” in Connecticut, this type of advance directive is a document that records your wishes about the care you’d like to receive if there comes a time you’re unable to communicate them yourself. For a living will to go into effect, your doctor must certify that you either have a terminal illness or are in a persistent vegetative state and cannot make decisions for yourself.
A living will typically covers things like the use of breathing tubes, dialysis, painkillers, food and fluids, and more.
You want to have a living will as part of your estate plan because you won’t know in advance when it will be needed.
Connecticut now has another form that goes into effect as soon as it is signed, regardless of your capacity to make decisions. Click here to read about MOLST (Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment), which outlines your choices about the use of life-sustaining treatments and ensure that health professionals across all aspects of your care honor your choices.
Health Care Power of Attorney
A different kind of advance directive from a living will, a health care power of attorney is an estate planning document that designates someone – typically a close family member – to be your health care representative.
He or she would have the power to make medical decisions for you if you weren’t able to make them for yourself. In Connecticut, this document is called “an appointment of a health care representative.”
You want to have a health care power of attorney as part of your estate plan. Like a living will, by the time it’s needed, it’s too late to draw one up.
If you don’t yet have a health care directive or a power of attorney, we cannot stress strongly enough that you need them – everyone needs them! They are simple documents that can be drafted up easily, and they will protect you and will make life easier for those who care about you.
Call us today if you’d like us to put these estate planning documents together for you.