A Designation of Health Care Surrogate is the document that lets you name
the person who will speak for you and make medical decisions for you if
you are unable to do so yourself.
A HIPAA release is the document that lets you designate which people can
have access to your health records and which people your health care providers
can talk to about your medical conditions. HIPAA releases were created
as a result of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
of 1996 (“HIPAA”).
In Florida, most of the time the Designation of Health Care Surrogate document
includes a HIPAA release because your decision maker needs access to your
medical records and your doctors in order to make informed decisions for
you. Therefore, the question often arises as to whether you need both
a Designation of Health Care Surrogate and a separate HIPAA release. The
answer is, it depends.
Although your health care surrogate is the person who you want to make
the actual medical decisions for you, are there other people who you want
to have permission to speak with your health care providers? It is usually
a good idea to only have one actual decision maker, but also potentially
a good idea to have additional family members who are authorized to talk
with your health care providers.
A HIPAA release can either be filled out with each of your health care
providers (they all have HIPAA release paperwork as part of their normal
patient forms packets) or you can put one HIPAA release in place and give
a copy of the same HIPAA release to all your health care providers. Whichever
choice you make, just remember that it is just as important to keep your
HIPAA release up to date as it is to keep your estate planning documents
up to date.
So, the answer to the question of do I need both a Designation of Health
Care Surrogate and a HIPAA Release is not a one size fits all answer.
It is an answer that depends upon your personal wishes, your family and
what is going to work best in your personal situation.