Broker Check
Kids under 26? What parents need to understand about the HIPPA laws

Kids under 26? What parents need to understand about the HIPPA laws

September 16, 2022

Oftentimes, in our discussions with parents, we find that many parents are simply unaware that they are not entitled to information regarding their adult child's medical information. This can be especially upsetting to a parent during an emergency. 

Say your child is away at college and lands in the hospital, injured and unconscious, after being in a car accident. It's a horrible scenario to imagine, of course. But the situation could be worse: It's possible you wouldn’t even receive information about your child’s medical status unless you filled out the proper forms ahead of time. [1] 

Every year, parent questions crop up about health forms for new college students, including HIPAA authorization and medical power of attorney. It's a good idea to have these conversations as a family (before your child turns 18); and get important medical forms organized, signed, and readily available in one place. [1]

What Parents Need To Know

Once your child turns 18, you lose the ability to access their medical records without their permission. Even if your kids are on your insurance – as many children are until they turn 26 – there can still be delays in health professionals releasing the necessary information to you. [2]

Legally, if your child gets into an accident you may not be able to get any information on your child’s condition at all. Even worse, you may not have the legal right to make any medical decisions on your child’s behalf if he/she is incapacitated based on HIPAA’s privacy clause.[2]

What Are The HIPAA Privacy Laws? 

Passed in 1996, HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, includes several key provisions, including the privacy restriction. [2]

The privacy rule was largely crafted to protect patients’ personal or protected health information. The rule is triggered once your child turns 18 and can potentially restrict you from getting or sharing information on your child’s health. While your child may not want you to get access to their healthcare records on an ongoing basis, it’s a good idea to have a means of circumventing HIPAA in the event of an emergency. [2]

Stories abound of spring break incidents or falls during an “adventure trip” or service program in a remote location. In these cases, frustrated and worried parents were unable to help their children or get them transported quickly to a location where there were better hospitals and quality of care. [2]

Add These Forms to Your College Checklist

While no one wants to think about a medical emergency, legal and medical professionals suggest planning for worst-case scenarios by having your child sign authorization forms.

These forms include a HIPAA release as well as a medical power of attorney. The documents are essentially permission slips for healthcare providers to release and share medical information with parents and guardians in an emergency. [2]

To set up power of attorney, your child just needs to decide who they will designate to make healthcare decisions for them. In many states, HIPAA authorization is rolled into a Power of Attorney form so you need one rather than two forms. If your child attends college out of state, ensure the forms reference your home state as well as the state in which school they attend is located. [2]

Footnotes, disclosures, and sources: