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Does Your Florida Advance Directive Include HIPAA Authorization?


Even if you have not yet executed the paperwork, most people who have looked into Florida estate planning options know the function of a health care advance directive. State law uses the term Designation of Health Care Surrogate, and this document enables you to name an agent to make medical decisions and manage your well-being needs if you become incapacitated. At the same time, there are also provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) that could affect your estate plan. This federal statute addresses who can access your medical information and communicate with caregivers on your behalf.

Based upon this short overview, you might be wondering if your health care surrogate documents might conflict with HIPAA requirements. The two concepts can co-exist within your estate planning strategy, but working with a Dade City advance directives lawyer is wise to ensure the arrangement meets your expectations. Some additional details may also be useful. 

The HIPAA Authorization and Advance Directive Conundrum 

Based upon their respective roles, you can see that there is some overlap with these documents.

  • On the one hand, HIPAA focuses on patient confidentiality. It protects your private medical information and prevents others from accessing records unless specifically authorized by you. It is necessary to execute an official HIPAA Release/Authorization for this purpose. This document is limited to communicating with health care providers and reviewing medical information.
  • An advance directive also authorizes someone to deal with your medical care, but you can allow your health care surrogate additional powers. For instance, you can authorize your agent to withhold certain types of care, apply for public benefits, and approve medical procedures.

The common element with these two documents is that they both can be useful when you become incapacitated. However, advance directives typically require proof of incapacity as attested to by a physician. This could result in a situation where your health care surrogate cannot act until the doctor signs off on incapacity – potentially after multiple exams and lab tests.

A HIPAA authorization does not require that the signatory be incapacitated before taking effect. By executing one, you bridge the gap.

What To Do About HIPAA – Advance Directive Conflicts 

If you have not already prepared a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, the best strategy is to include the proper provisions that allow it to function as a HIPAA authorization. Anyone with an older advance directive, executed before 1996, should certainly review their documents. It may be necessary to revoke an older version and execute a new health care advance directive with appropriate language. You can also sign a separate HIPAA Release/Authorization.

 Consult with a Pasco County Advance Directives Attorney to Learn More 

Failure to prepare a HIPAA authorization does not defeat your estate plan, but you can see how it creates hassles your family does not need when you are incapacitated. To learn more, please contact The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane at 352-567-0055 or via our website. We can set up a consultation at our location in Dade City to discuss details.



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