Healthcare Power of Attorney: An overlooked college essential

Healthcare Power of Attorney: An overlooked college essential

When teens turn 18, they’re legally classified as adults. But with nearly half a million 18-year-olds starting college this year, guardians should talk to their teen about establishing a power of attorney (POA) to protect their teen in case of medical emergency.

“A power of attorney document can avoid doubt, and give certainty and comfort that healthcare decisions are made in the best interest of the young adult,” says Schaumburg attorney Harry E. Bartosiak of Bartosiak Law LLC. “This is an underappreciated opportunity for a student to have their personal affairs in order and gives comfort to parents while they’re away.”

Even with a POA, newly minted adults still have privacy protections thanks to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. HIPAA created national standards to keep sensitive health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent. 

The POA comes into play if a young adult is incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions. Without it, if the student has a medical emergency, parents may not be contacted or find out their child’s condition.

“If you have the POA already in place, the university healthcare system probably has the ability to put it in an electronic medical record,” Bartosiak says. “Then, you dramatically increase the chances of having smoother communication with the healthcare provider.”

Find the Illinois POA online. It is typically recognized across states.