What is the Texas Medical Privacy Act?

What is the Texas Medical Privacy Act?

What is the Texas Medical Privacy Act?

The Texas Medical Privacy Act helps protect your medical privacy. The dedicated estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas can help you address your estate planning concerns with this ironclad privacy.

The Texas Medical Privacy Act is a legal act implemented by the governor of Texas in 2001 to ensure that the state remains in compliance with federal standards related to patient privacy (as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 –HIPAA). HIPAA was the first federal legislation to address uniform privacy standards concerning patient information, and it is an important legal matter that affects all of us in significant ways. Still, it also has important implications for estate planning. If you have questions or concerns regarding your medical privacy and how it intertwines with your estate planning, the accomplished estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas (512-505-2753) have the skill and legal insight you need to ensure your legal rights remain protected.

Your Healthcare Directive

For your estate plans to be comprehensive and complete, you need to address the matter of a healthcare directive, which only kicks in if you cannot make healthcare decisions on your behalf. If you have strong opinions regarding how you would like your health care to be addressed in the event you are incapacitated, the only way to effectively and definitively address them is by implementing a medical power of attorney (medical POA) that designates an agent who will make your healthcare decisions on your behalf if the need should arise.

Make Decisions on Your Behalf

For the agent assigned in your Medical POA to make important decisions about your health care in your stead, they will need to have all the relevant information about your health available to them. The Texas Medical Privacy Act, which is the state’s version of HIPAA designed to protect your privacy, can become a sticking point. To bypass this privacy protection, you will need –in essence –a waiver that provides your doctors with the authorization to disclose your private healthcare information to the named party or parties.

Authorization to Disclose Protected Health Information

In the State of Texas, the tool necessary to grant the agent of your medical POA the ability to obtain the information that they need to make serious medical decisions on your behalf is the Authorization to Disclose Protected Health Information form. This form requires all of the following:

  • Your contact information
  • Whom you are granting permission to disclose your private healthcare information
  • Whom you are designating as the recipient of your private healthcare information
  • The kind of healthcare information you are allowing to be disclosed (there are a series of boxes you can check for inclusion –such as Physician’s Orders, Progress notes, Pathology Reports –as you deem appropriate).

There are also special categories of information that you will need to initial if you want them to be included in the private information that you are requesting be disclosed, including:

  • Your mental health records (excluding any notes from your psychotherapist)
  • Your drug, alcohol, and/or substance abuse records
  • Any HIV/AIDS test results or treatment
  • Genetic information, including genetic test results

Why You Need the HIPAA Authorization

There are three primary concerns to keep in mind when it comes to your estate plan and medical privacy.

The Power to Act

Even though you may have carefully granted the agent of your medical POA, living will, or another kind of medical directive the decision-making power to make important healthcare decisions on your behalf, the medical professional in charge of your care will probably not be comfortable providing them your private medical details without a legally executed HIPAA authorization. The Texas Medical Privacy Act is in place to protect your medical privacy. This leaves you responsible for providing explicit instructions regarding when you want this protection to be overridden (the doctor in question is not likely to make this decision for you).

Durability Clause

To ensure that your HIPAA authorization works for you, you will also need a durability clause in place. Your durability clause ensures that the powers granted in your medical POA will extend beyond any incapacitation, which means that if you become incapacitated, the medical POA will remain in effect.

Your Trust Can Also Be Affected

Your trust can also be affected by HIPAA in a way that you may not have considered. Your trust assigns a trustee who manages it according to your exacting specifications. Still, if something were to prevent your trustee from fulfilling their duty when the time comes (such as incapacitation), you might be out of options if there is no path forward toward replacing them. Again, the only way forward here is with a HIPAA authorization that allows your named replacement to obtain the medical information necessary to declare the original trustee incapacitated(according to the trust’s terms) and to step in on their behalf.

Consult with an Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney

Your estate plans are important to you, your family, and your legacy, and while there is a great deal of consideration involved, taking the time to get it right can give you the boost of confidence you are looking for when it comes to taking care of your family over time. The Texas Medical Privacy Act makes addressing matters related to your advance healthcare directive more complicated. The focused estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas have a wealth of experience effectively and efficiently addressing complicated HIPAA-related concerns. We are well prepared to unleash these skills in defense of your rights and in support of your intentions. We are on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 for more information today.

Do Trust Agreements Need HIPAA Authorization?

Do Trust Agreements Need HIPAA Authorization?

Do Trust Agreements Need HIPAA Authorization?

Estate planning is complicated, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws are challenging, which makes the combination of HIPAA and estate planning as complicated as it is important. Your estate plan is not complete if it does not address an incapacity plan via a trust agreement (or another means), which has HIPAA implications. While this can seem overwhelming, the experienced estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC take great pride in helping clients like you remain in control of the health care they receive –even when they are unable to speak for themselves. Learn more by giving our legal team a call at 512-505-2753 today.

Failure To Have an Incapacity Plan in Place

The simple truth is that if your estate plan does not include a trust agreement with directives that guide your incapacity and subsequent health care, your loved ones may have to petition the court in order to obtain the authority to make important decisions regarding your health and personal care if necessary.

Without an incapacity plan, your family could be denied access to your medical records in the event of an incapacitating accident, illness, or injury. Further, there is no way to ensure that your wishes regarding this important topic will be upheld unless you memorialize them in your estate plan’s trust agreement. Because HIPAA and estate planning issues that relate to health care and incapacity tend to dovetail, consider visiting with a dedicated estate planning attorney to learn more about your legal rights.

HIPAA’s Role in Estate Planning

HIPAA stands for the very important sounding Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and it plays a very important role in helping to protect patients’ private health information. HIPAA ensures the following:

  • Medical providers must establish policies and other safeguards that help to protect data related to their patients’ health.
  • Healthcare providers must adhere to strict rules regarding when they can share patient information.

By signing a HIPAA authorization, individual patients are able to authorize the release of their own healthcare information. This official authorization allows healthcare providers the authority they need to release a patient’s personal health data in accordance with the terms and conditions specified therein.

In order for your HIPAA authorization to be valid, it must be written in plain language that makes your intentions clear and must include all the following:

  • The name of the provider who is specifically authorized to disclose your private healthcare information
  • The name of the person or entity that is specifically authorized to receive your private healthcare information
  • A careful description of the specific healthcare information that you authorize to be disclosed
  • The specific purpose behind the disclosure in question
  • The authorization’s specific time frame and expiration date
  • Your name, the date signed, and your signature

HIPAA authorizations are also required to contain certain notices, such as your right to revoke the authorization itself.

HIPAA and Estate Planning: What You Need to Know

When it comes to HIPAA and estate planning, it is critical that the incapacity plan incorporated in your trust agreement be in compliance with all HIPAA regulations. Your trust agreement grants power of attorney regarding your healthcare decisions to someone else in the event that you are incapacitated. While the person whom you trust to carry out this important task does have the legal capacity to move forward with significant healthcare responsibilities on your behalf, your medical provider is not likely to provide him or her with your private healthcare data without an executed HIPAA authorization in place. Ultimately, HIPAA and your trust agreement will work in unison to help protect your healthcare decisions in the event of your incapacitation.

What HIPAA Authorization Can Mean for You and Your Family

Including a valid and clear HIPAA authorization in your trust agreement can help to ensure that all the following are true:

  • Your family will have the authority to access your medical records in their efforts to make better-informed healthcare decisions on your behalf (in the event of your incapacitation).
  • The healthcare facility, hospital, or healthcare provider involved will be able to freely provide your family with the private and confidential medical records they need without fear of potential liability.
  • Your family will be authorized to receive medical updates about your condition and to access your medical bills.

HIPAA and Estate Planning: Frequently Asked Questions

The answers to several of the most frequently asked questions regarding HIPAA and estate planning can help you move forward with increased confidence.

Is There a Difference Between HIPAA Consent and Authorization?

Consent, as it relates to HIPAA, is much more general than authorization. With consent you allow one healthcare provider to disclose or use protected health information for your healthcare treatment. With authorization, you allow the people and/or entities referenced in the document permission to disclose specific protected health information to specified third parties.

How Long Will My HIPAA Authorization Remain Valid?

You control how long your HIPAA authorization will remain valid via the expiration date you incorporate. Further, you can revoke this expiration date in writing (prior to the date).

Can I Revoke My HIPAA Authorization?

Yes, your HIPAA authorization can be completely revoked at any time, but doing so in writing is well advised.

Turn to the Professional Legal Guidance of an Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney

Because HIPAA and estate planning –as they relate to your healthcare directives –go hand in hand, it is important to address all related matters directly. The benefits of having a trust agreement in place that guides your healthcare decisions in the event of incapacitation are significant, but without the appropriate HIPAA authorization, these healthcare directives can be diluted –or even voided. The accomplished estate planning attorneys at Ibekwe Law, PLLC in Texas understand how important the matter of your healthcare directives is to you, and we are fully committed to helping you take care of your estate planning goals –while bolstering your peace of mind. To learn more about how we can help you, please do not wait to contact or call us at 512-505-2753 today.