There is one estate planning document, that for many, is almost an afterthought. It seems like a simple formality, one that does not deserve the attention that a trust plan or power of attorney yields. Although it is just a small part of your overall estate plan, it’s importance cannot be overstated enough. This document is your HIPAA Release. So what is a HIPAA Release and why is it so important?

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This broad-based law gives the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) the ability to oversee the privacy of individual health care information. In keeping with HIPAA, HHS enacted the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, or “Privacy Rule,” which governs the application and disclosure of an individual’s private health care information. It also establishes an individual’s right to privacy concerning their health care information and how their health care information may be used.

A HIPAA release is important because it allows you to identify which individuals and entities can have access to your private health care information. This allows any individuals that could be making health care decisions for you, per your Medical Power of Attorney, to be listed as individuals authorized to have access to your health care information. A HIPAA release also allows you to name what type of health care information may be disclosed and to whom. A HIPAA release allows you to maintain control over your health care and health care information, even if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.

For additional reading:

The Importance of a Medical Power of Attorney

Having a Customized Durable Power of Attorney

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