I’m attorney Paul Bernstein of the Bernstein Law Group. Many people have a very important document in place already called health care proxy. That’s where you’ve nominated under Massachusetts Law someone to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to do so due to an accident or an illness, and you’re incapacitated.
Two critical documents
It’s a critical document, along with a HIPAA authorization, where you’ve stated who can access your medical information during any period of incapacity and who can talk with your physicians and any medical care providers without violating the federal HIPAA medical privacy rules. Those two documents are critical documents.
Why they won’t work when you need them
The problem is we don’t carry them on our bodies while we’re out and about. So what happens if you’re in a car accident, you’re being taken by ambulance to a hospital, and you’re totally incapacitated? The hospital has no idea you have a healthcare proxy and a HIPAA authorization, and doesn’t even know who to contact. They’ll go through your wallet, looking for that information and looking for your health insurance card, but they won’t see that you have these documents.
How we have solved that problem
What we do with our clients is that we sign them up with a specific service and provide them with a card. They take this card and put it right in their wallet, next to their health insurance card. In that case, when the hospital is going through their wallet, looking for information, they’ll see this document that says “emergency medical information card.”
Making the information accessible
On the back of this card, there’s a website for them to go to. When they go to the website, they put in the contact information that’s on the card and what pops up immediately is an electronic version of their healthcare proxy and HIPAA authorization.
It also has everyone’s contact information, making the document readily available during an emergency. It’s bridging that gap of having these important medically based estate planning documents and having them accessible during an emergency. This is acritical thing.
We found a solution
We don’t want people leaving our office after they have their estate plan in place with just a stack of documents. We want them to have an estate plan that will work when they need it to work. This has always been one of those issues out there and continues to be one for most people. So we’ve found a solution.