Far too many parents are stunned to learn that healthcare providers and colleges are by law not permitted to speak with them about their children without the correct documents in place.
That long-awaited, bittersweet moment has finally arrived: your children are headed off to college. They are now adults—and likely far from home, where they must learn to fend for themselves. But if they run into a problem, let’s say a health emergency, the hospital might not take your phone call. As reported in businessinsavannah.com’s article, “College-bound children need critical financial, health documents,” there are certain steps you can take so that you will be able to speak with doctors at a hospital and college officials on his or her behalf.
Otherwise, you’re not legally allowed to help him. Why not?
Many state privacy laws don’t let parents make healthcare or financial decisions for their adult children. It doesn’t matter if you’re paying their college tuition and health insurance, your hands are legally tied. To solve this issue, you can have legal documents prepared that will allow you to continue in your guardianship role.
Two important documents are an advance directive for healthcare and a durable power of attorney to assign you or another trusted adult as your child’s representative. Without these, your child could be incapacitated and alone in a hospital or financially stranded somewhere. You could be required to petition a judge to let you help your child.
Two other forms that can help with your child’s care are a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) form and an In Case of Emergency (ICE) card. The pre-signed HIPAA form lets you immediately access your child’s medical records, and an ICE card that can fit in a wallet will have all of his or her approved emergency contacts, health insurance info and known allergies.
While you hope that you will never need any of these items, knowing that you will be able to help your college student if necessary will provide some peace of mind.
Reference: businessinsavannah.com (July 22, 2016) “College-bound children need critical financial, health documents”
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