HIPAA and Your Power of Attorney for Health Care Document

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA took effect in April 2003 and includes detailed privacy rules regarding your health information. Medical and legal professionals are very concerned about these rules and are also uncertain as to particular applications of HIPAA in their daily practices. Evidence of this uncertainty is seen in the mixed information that is communicated on this topic.

The specific area of concern is in regard to a person’s Personal Health Information (PHI). A medical directive statement might not include language that specifically authorizes the release of PHI to your health care agent. We have heard legal experts state that the power of attorney for health care documents fulfill this requirement adequately, so additional clarification is unnecessary. Other attorneys warn that without specific wording, there could be hesitancy among medical professionals to share PHI, even with a designed health care agent.

Christian Life Resources includes a “HIPAA Release Statement” in each of its Power of Attorney for Health Care-Christian Version documents, stating:

“I intend for my health care agent* to be treated as I would with respect to my rights regarding the use and disclosure of my individual protected health information or other medical records. I grand to my attorney in fact the right to receive, disclose, or release, without restriction, all of my protect health information. This release statement applies to any information that is governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.”

* Some states use different terminology to describe an appointed health care agent, such as attorney-in-fact or representative. 

Most current medical directives now contain a HIPAA Release Statement within the document.

Remember that medical directive statements are written according to statutes that apply to each person’s state of residency. The Power of Attorney for Health Care-Christian Version documents provided by Christian Life Resources are updated and reviewed annually according to those statutes.


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