The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed in 1996 and modified and tweaked for several years afterward. It was mainly intended to help people maintain their health insurance as they went from job to job. HIPAA also had the goal of keeping our medical information private as that knowledge in the wrong hands could affect our careers and our personal relationships. It was a big relief to know that we could reveal our health status only to the people that we agreed should have that insight.

Yet, at the worst possible moment, the HIPAA privacy provision can throw up a barrier to our loved ones when they need us to help them. Health care providers who don’t understand the nuances of HIPAA or if we are stopped by administrative staff while trying to get medical information to support our loved ones—critical time can be lost.

As a patient advocate, one thing I immediately ask all my clients to fill out is an Official State of Texas HIPAA form (see link below). Texas has some of the most aggressive HIPAA privacy laws in all the U.S., so having one of these is a necessity for me to advocate for my clients.

Knowing that these same challenges might present themselves to my own family, I have had each of them fill out a HIPAA form with the upper right hand filled out and signed at the bottom. We leave the middle part blank, so any of us can fill out the form with the name of the provider (“I Authorize The Following To Disclose The Individual’s Protected Health Information”) and with the name of the family member who needs to receive the information (“Who Can Receive And Use The Health Information?”).

Scanning and putting this on our computers as an email attachment as well as keeping it in a family notebook will help if we need this at a moment’s notice. To become a wise health care consumer by having the right documents in an emergency will reduce the stress and allow us to concentrate on our loved one’s care.

Please use link below to start organizing for a healthy future!