Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, and HIPAA Authorizations Oh My! Why Your College Bound Student Needs All Three.

A few years ago I wrote a blog about drafting a health care proxy for your young freshmen. This is a topic I often talk about because it is so important, but most people never think of it. Well, I was thrilled when recently a young family member forwarded an e-mail from her college and asked for my help. This e-mail recommended that she have a health care proxy, power of attorney, and HIPAA authorization drafted before the start of school.

Learn the basics about the health care proxy here.

You can also learn more about the Power of Attorney and HIPAA authorization here. We often think of these documents in connection with the elderly, or at least adults with children and/or real property, but why does your freshman/college student need them?

Though sometimes it may not seem that way, your freshman is now an adult. As a young adult, she may still depend on you in many ways and would certainly depend on you even more in an emergency. However, since she is an adult you are no longer entitled to make healthcare decision for her or to obtain her medical information, even in an emergency.

This is where the Health Care Proxy and HIPAA authorization come in. In certain medical emergencies, having a Health Care Proxy which names you or another family member to make decisions, would enable you to make important and perhaps even life-saving decisions for your child quickly.

But, even without jumping to the emergency scenario, having a HIPAA authorization for your child would help you if any insurance questions arose. At 18 your child is an adult, but probably still on your health insurance. It can be incredibly frustrating if you cannot deal with a simple billing issue. This is a scenario where having a HIPAA authorization will save you a big headache, especially where full-time college students can be under your insurance until age 26!

You are also no longer entitled to make financial decisions for your child, again, even in an emergency. This is where a power of attorney is a useful document for your child as well. A power of attorney is a document in which your child would give you permission to represent them in dealing with their financial lives. It can be drafted so that this power is vested in you immediately, OR only upon your child being found incapacitated. This document would be invaluable if you needed to make changes to their financial aid package, or to figure out tuition problems if they were incapacitated mid-semester.

This is also a great opportunity to begin educating your child about all the responsibilities that come with adulthood. Sit down and talk to your child about these issues, and help them contact an attorney for a consultation. Empower them to protect themselves by putting in place these documents.

The summer may seem long now, but you will be dropping off at the dorms before you know it. Contact us to speak to Attorney Vickstrom about protecting your young adult as they set out in the world.

Photo Credit: Sterling College, and used under a Creative Commons license.


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