What's the Deal: Getting medical info about grown child

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What?s the Deal: Getting medical info about grown child. Nydia Han reports during Action News at 4:30pm on August 31, 2017. (WPVI)

As a parent, there are few things worse than getting a call saying your young-adult child is being taken to the emergency room, because of an illness, accident, or due to a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey.

Now imagine getting that call, but the doctors and nurses won't tell you anything about your child's condition.

The privacy rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, says that once a child is legally an adult - which in most states is 18 - parents have no more right to their child's medical information than they would to the information of a stranger on the street.

"It doesn't even matter whether your child is still on your health insurance or if you're paying the bills," said Donna Rosato, the Consumer Reports Money Editor.

Health experts at Consumer Reports say that signing a simple document could help smooth things over.

"You're basically getting your child to sign the equivalent of a permission slip. Then, if there's an emergency, it helps eliminate any ambiguity," said Rosato.

There isn't one 'official' document called a HIPAA Authorization Form. You can find many versions online. They typically specify who can be given the medical information, the type of information that can be shared, and the applicable dates.

"Some hospitals and college medical centers have their own forms, so if you know where your child is likely get health care, you might want to reach out to them in advance and ask," said Rosato.

Thinking about the unthinkable may help you better handle a crisis.

The best thing is for your child to carry the form tucked into a wallet or a backpack.

But during an emergency, a parent forwarding a scanned copy may be enough to persuade a doctor or hospital to release the information.

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