Sharing Personal Health Information
In most cases, once your child turns 18, she or he is considered to be an independent adult who must authorize any disclosure or release of personal health information (PHI), including to a parent. This provision of the privacy protections of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) means that your young adult child will need to sign a standard “release of information” consent form granting a parent or guardian the right to be involved in discussions of their care. This is a legal requirement even if s/he is considered to be your dependent for federal income tax purposes and/or is covered by your health insurance policy as a dependent. (Exceptions to this rule are made for young adults who are determined not to be capable of making independent decisions due to disability, and you will need to become legally authorized to make decisions for them).
In some cases, it may also be important for your young adult child to grant to you the legal status known as “Power of Attorney,” so that you can make health care decisions and handle insurance coverage issues or medical billing disputes on their behalf. In Washington state, it is not necessary for an attorney to draft Power of Attorney documents, but you may wish to get legal advice before finalizing such a document. You can ask the BMT social worker about procedures for Power of Attorney for healthhcare, advance directives, and legal services referrals. Some medical centers provide information and forms routinely to all their patients.