Does Your Child Nead a Health Care Directive?

Laurie at her high school graduation

Children as young as eighteen are entitled to privacy of their health care information. If you want to be a part of your college-aged child's health care decisions, it is helpful for them to sign a HIPAA release.

There are a lot of things people do to help our children prepare for college.  Giving your child some good advice, buying the right-size sheets for those extra-long dorm beds, and arranging for the purchase of all of those books.   But what about arranging for your child’s health care?

Although he or she may still be “your baby” and covered by your health insurance, unless your child is under the age of 18 they are legally an adult.  This means that your college-aged child is legally in charge of their own health care decisions.  And your college-aged child has a right to the privacy of their health information, which prevents others — including you — from accessing your child’s that information.  So even if your child has a medical emergency, their doctor may have no responsibility to contact you and may even be legally prevented from doing so.

One good way to stay informed and maintain your involvement in your child’s health-care decisions is to have your child sign a HIPAA Release.  HIPAA, which stands for the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, is a law that creates strict privacy protections for medical information.  By signing a HIPAA Release, your child gives their doctors permission to share health information with you.  This allows your child’s doctors to alert you when your child has a new medical condition.  It also gives the doctors permission to share diagnoses and discuss options for your child’s treatment.  For even more security, your child could also sign an Advance Health Care Directive.  This would make you your child’s health care decision-maker and obligate your child’s doctors to inform you and consult with you about your child’s health care.

To set up a HIPAA Release and an Advance Health Care Directive for your child, contact or see

Helping plan for your family’s future at every stage of your life.

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