What is a HIPAA

By: Erika McNamara, Sierra Willnus, and Charlotte Doran

A HIPAA, also called a Medical Records Release Authorization form, allows a person to choose who can view or inquire about his/her private medical information. These selected individuals are called “Agents” or “Personal Representatives”. While this document is often made for elderly people, HIPAAs are important for everyone to have. For example, if a person is involved in a major car accident and his/her family wants to ask the doctors about his/her condition, the doctors are not allowed to tell them anything unless their names are listed under a HIPAA document that is filed with a primary care physician or other health care provider. Because of this, it is important for adults of every age to have a HIPAA on file. 

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), a person has the right to medical privacy, as well as the right to elect who can view a his/her medical records. This document is written for doctors, health care insurance providers, pharmacists, and other health care professionals for their reference so they know who is allowed to see a person’s medical records. Health care professionals can give, release, or disclose any medical information to individuals listed on a person’s HIPAA without restrictions. This means, for example, that a doctor can discuss anything with a person’s Agent or Personal Representative that could be discussed with that person. An Agent or Personal Representative can view or inquire about the person’s past, present, or future health condition, diagnoses, and treatment. 

A person can revoke or change his/her HIPAA at any time; they can add or take off as many names as they wish. This flexibility allows a proactive person who created a HIPAA early in life to change it as they age. Please contact McNamara Law for more resources and information about how to create a HIPAA.  

Created by McNamara Law. 517-552-4092. www.gentrynalley.com

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