How To Help Your College Student In Case of Emergency

July 19, 2016

Last year, Jennifer Hill, a mother of six from Yuma, attempted to pay her 18-year-old daughter’s recent medical bill over the phone. Jennifer, after all, pays for most of her daughter’s “grown-up” services like health insurance and car insurance premiums. But Jennifer was shocked when the person on the other end of the phone would not even talk to her about her daughter’s medical bill, let alone let her pay it. Needless to say, Jennifer was frustrated.

Many parents in our community are blissfully unaware of what legally happens in the medical world when their child turns 18. In short, once your child turns 18, your child is legally a stranger to you. You, as your child’s parent, have no more legal right to your legal-aged son or daughter’s medical information than you would to any other stranger’s medical information. This is due, in part, to federal legislation that was put in place many years ago known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA for short.

HIPAA was a set of laws designed to, among other things, protect the confidentiality of our health information. HIPAA laws require medical professionals to get authorization from the patient before they can disclose any health information about that patient to anyone. If a person is under the age of 18, then that minor’s guardian can give authorization. But if a person is over 18, they are now considered an adult and only he or she can give authorization as to who can access their medical information.

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