As discussed in the previous postings, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), was enacted in 1996. It was created to assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected. The previous postings listed information that the Privacy Rule protects, information that can be disclosed, and the entities that must keep private health information private.

The HIPAA laws unfortunately have made health care providers paranoid about sharing information with family or health care agents for fear of violating the law. Hence, the people entrusted to make health decisions (health care proxies) are denied information necessary to make informed decisions. Therefore it is critical that your Health Care Proxy include a HIPAA release so there will be no barrier between information and the decision makers entrusted to make critical health decisions.

A health care proxy appoints an agent to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated and unable to make your own medical decisions. Your living will states your health care preferences and serves as a guide for your health care proxy. Along with a HIPAA release, these documents have become foundational pieces to most estate plans.

Aaron E. Futterman, CPA, Esq. is a partner in the law firm of with offices in Smithtown, NY and clients throughout Suffolk, Nassau, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Richmond, New York, Westchester and Rockland Counties. He concentrates his practice to Elder Law, Medicaid Planning, Medicaid Applications, Estate Planning, Probate, Estate Taxes, and Estate Administration.