In 1996, Congress passed a law created by the United States Department of Health and Human Services that would issue a set of national standards when dealing with health information. This law is called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also commonly referred to as HIPAA.


With today’s technologies, it is critical to ensure that every American’s information is safe. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act does not only work to protect the American people but it works to save healthcare providers money through reducing fraudulent activity.  While this is a good step forward to protect the privacy of your health care information and records it can pose issues for your decision makers to be able to get access to your medical information in the time of a crisis without estate planning documents in place.


The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services speaks about the changing times reporting, “Today, providers are using clinical applications such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, electronic health records (EHR), and radiology, pharmacy, and laboratory systems. Health plans are providing access to claims and care management, as well as member self-service applications. While this means that the medical workforce can be more mobile and efficient (i.e., physicians can check patient records and test results from wherever they are), the rise in the adoption rate of these technologies increases the potential security risks.”


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act provides for security for medical and health information. Since HIPAA works to ensure people’s safety, medical professionals are required to take extensive protective rules. As you may have personally experienced, it can be difficult to obtain medical records for another person and even for yourself.


This is why it is crucial that your estate planning documents include health care planning documents and HIPAA is a part of your conversation with your attorney.   Depending on what you decide with your estate planning attorney, this could include a separate HIPAA form to be given to your health care professionals when you need it to be used. At the Hougum Law Firm, we know and understand the challenges you face and we want to help you plan ahead to protect yourself and those you love most. Call us at (715) 843-5001 or contact us through our website to schedule an appointment with Attorney Alan Hougum.