Congress passed The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect your private medical information and to create a secure way to share health information among providers and insurance companies. Because of the act, disclosure of your medical information is very tightly controlled.
However, potential problems may arise if you suffer an accident or illness that leaves you incapacitated. You have diligently provided a Living Trust and named a Health Care Surrogate as part of your Florida Estate Plan, but it may not be enough. Your Health Care Surrogate cannot legally step in until they know you can no longer make decisions for yourself. If medical personnel will not tell your representative the details of your condition, your surrogate may have to go to court to prove that you are incapacitated. That process is lengthy and expensive, and does not allow for the urgent decision making that such a situation would likely entail.
There is a standard HIPAA release form on Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration website. You may also have a HIPAA release drafted by an attorney who understands the intricacies of HIPAA and can draft a release that is specific enough that it will be considered valid.
In addition, all of your estate plan documents should be updated to include language that reflects the legal realities of HIPAA.
Like all federal laws, states may make the law more restrictive but cannot make the federal law less restrictive. Florida has chosen to make the HIPAA laws more restrictive; therefore a HIPAA release that is more than 24 months old is no longer valid in Florida. This means if your HIPAA waiver was signed more than two years ago, your doctor does not have to accept it. An experienced Florida estate planning attorney can help you re-execute your HIPAA waiver and release.
At The Estate, Trust and Elder Law Firm, P.L. we help our Treasure Coast clients develop and implement comprehensive estate planning strategies personally tailored to their unique situation, needs, and goals. Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.