An Essential Healthcare Checklist for College Students

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Parents checked off tasks to get their college students ready to go back to school. If it’s not already on the list, they need to make sure that their college student has appropriate healthcare documents in place for anything that comes their way.

The core healthcare documents all college students need are: (1) a healthcare directive; (2) a HIPAA authorization form; (3) copies of all health-related insurance cards; and (4) an emergency contact plan.

Healthcare directive

Healthcare directives protect college students against the unexpected. A healthcare directive is a document that makes a college student’s wishes known to family members and doctors if they are incapacitated and unable to communicate their decisions. In addition, they can nominate healthcare agents who will make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they are incapacitated. This document is crucial for college students because as soon as they attain 18 years of age, their parents are no longer able to step in and assist with healthcare decisions in the event of a crisis absent a directive.

College students remain in control of their own healthcare decisions whenever they can communicate those decisions. Healthcare directives are only “active” during moments of incapacity resulting in the college student not being able to communicate for themselves.

Every state has its own laws governing healthcare directives and requirements for properly executing them. For this reason, it is highly recommended to work with an estate planning attorney to make sure that the healthcare directive is tailored to comply with the laws of the state in which the student is studying.

HIPAA authorization form

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects individuals from the disclosure of their healthcare information absent their consent. In the event of a health emergency, a HIPAA authorization form is needed for the college student’s medical information to be shared with their healthcare agent.

In some states, the HIPAA authorization form is incorporated within the healthcare directive. In other states, it is a separate form in addition to the healthcare directive. Again, an estate planning attorney can tailor the HIPAA authorization form to comply with applicable federal and state law.