What is a HIPAA Waiver? The HIPAA Waiver is an often-overlooked aspect of homemade estate plans people may download from LegalZoom or some other document vending company. HIPAA – spelled H. I. P. A. A. – stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
While the Act addresses many aspects of healthcare in the United States, for estate planning purposes we are especially concerned with its effect on data protection and the willingness of healthcare providers and other third parties to share a patient’s personal information. Because of HIPAA, in many circumstances, a healthcare provider is prohibited from sharing a patient’s personal information with third parties without the express permission of the patient.
Consider if your adult child – that’s 18 years old - was in a car accident or for some other reason was admitted to a hospital. Without that adult child’s approval, the hospital may be under no obligation to provide any information over the phone to you about your loved one.
Now you may get a phone call informing you that your child had been admitted to the hospital, but possibly no additional information beyond that. In such circumstances, faxing or delivering the hospital a copy of a HIPAA Waiver, previously executed by your adult child and shared with you, may be the only way to obtain information about their medical condition. This is especially the case if the hospital is in a different city or state. The lesson here is to make sure every adult aged 18 or older always has a complete and updated estate plan to protect their loved ones that includes a HIPAA waiver.