Off to College

by Stephen M. Young, Esq.

Did you know that if an adult child (over 18 years of age) is in an accident, the parent may find that they cannot access their child’s medical information, billing information, or other financial information about their care and treatment even if they are on their parent’s insurance?

In my practice as a personal injury and estate-planning attorney, I’ve come across this problem and it can be easily solved with a little foresight. If an adult child is in an accident or suffers a healthcare related emergency, parents often have trouble accessing information about their adult child’s care and finances because they do not possess the legal paperwork that gives them the right to possess that information. Many college students and college-aged adult children are susceptible to this problem, especially now that Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) allows adult children to be on their parent’s health insurance until the age of 26.

The last thing a parent wants to do in an emergency is call someone like me (a lawyer).

To solve this problem, parents of adult children should retain several legal documents. At a minimum, the parents should possess:

  • Power of Attorney which provides financial decision-making power for the parents for billing, tax, buying or selling assets, and other purposes,
  • Health Care Directive, which ensures that the parent or another trusted person has the ability to make health care decisions on behalf if the young adult becomes incapacitated and/or unable to communicate, and
  • HIPAA Authorization form, which provides the parents the ability to access their child’s medical records and any billing information should they ever be hospitalized or in need of medical treatment.

Although it is never comfortable to discuss these eventualities, it never hurts to be prepared. Having a copy of these documents ensures that parents can take control of an adult child’s health emergency and decrease stress that arises from an already tense situation.