Will you be informed of serious health issues after your child turns 18? Would you be able to help if needed?
At age 18, teens gain legal control over all their healthcare information. HIPAA privacy laws prevent parents from accessing their child’s information and restrict a parent’s ability to influence medical care.
When parents send their teens to college they assume that, after paying for tuition and for health insurance, they will have the right to be informed and consulted in case of an accident or when a severe health challenges arises. NOT SO!
There are several key steps that parents must take to prepare themselves and their child as they near the milestone of “legal independence”.
Educate your child to be a savvy healthcare consumer from a young age. Teach them how to schedule doctors’ appointments, how to check-in when entering a medical office, and how to speak for themselves during the doctor’s visit.
Teens should learn how to access their medical insurance contact information and carry their health insurance card. They should have access to their medical history and immunization records. They should keep a contact list of their doctors and dentist.
They should know names and doses of any medications they take, possible side effects, how to renew prescriptions and how to track regular daily consumption of necessary medications.
They should have a clear schedule for periodic lab work and tests, immunotherapy treatments and needed vaccinations, e.g. flu shots.
They should be aware of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), that may allow them to request some special accommodations when needed.
They should be familiar with their college mental health services and encouraged to seek help without hesitation.
They should have an “In Case of Emergency” (“ICE”) contact programmed into their cellphone to support any emergency contact.
Last but not least:
PARENTS should contact an attorney to draft a Health Care Power Of Attorney AND a Financial Power of attorney, so that if a teen becomes ill the parents can make health care AND financial decisions in the teen’s best interest.
Knowing that your child is experienced, prepared, and has the right legal coverage, will help make the transition to adulthood a smoother journey, and you can rest easier at night.