Parent’s Guide to HIPAA and FERPA

BYU_REVISED_PennantsAs soon as children turn eighteen, they are no longer children in the eyes of US law, and parents generally no longer have access to their medical, academic, and financial information. Talk with your teen before he or she turns eighteen about this shift, emphasizing your trust and confidence in his or her ability to be responsible.

If young adults are willing to grant some access to their parents—and it is entirely up to them—they can use these documents:

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) consent form: If parents still claim the child as a dependent for federal tax purposes, they maintain access to the child’s academic records. If the child is no longer a dependent, they can choose to grant parents access with a FERPA consent form; contact the university records office for assistance.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization: Parents don’t have access to the medical information for their adult children, even if they’re paying for the insurance, and even in emergencies. But young adults can sign the HIPAA authorization to grant parents access—either complete access or for emergencies only, while maintaining privacy about sexual health and other matters. Contact the university health center for assistance.

 Medical power of attorney: This document allows you to appoint an “agent” to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you are incapacitated and cannot make such decisions for yourself. Children may also appoint parents durable power of attorney, a more expansive designation that enables the agent to access bank accounts, sign tax returns, and pay bills. Legal forms vary by state; consult an attorney.

For more detailed descriptions, see this fact sheet.

Read “The Ultimate College-Skills Crash Course” in the Summer 2016 issue of Marriott Alumni Magazine to learn more about helping your to-be freshman ace college life.

—Holly Munson