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Planning for Health Care

HIPAA and Health Care Privacy

Rosemary K. Heins, Extension Educator — Family Resource Management

September 2013

HIPAA, commonly pronounced like the word for a large African animal — hippo — relates to medical information privacy. The acronym actually stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It guides health care providers in determining who they can share your information with.

A health care provider or health plan may share relevant information with family members or friends involved in your health care or payment for your health, if you tell the provider or plan that it can do so, or if you do not object to sharing of the information. An example would be, if you do not object, your doctor could talk with the friend who is with you at the hospital or the family member who pays your medical bill.

A provider or plan may also share relevant information with family or friends if, using professional judgment it believes you do not object. For example, if you send your friend to pick up a prescription for you, the pharmacist can assume you do not object to their being given the medication. Or when you are injured and cannot give your permission, a provider may share information with family or a friend with you since doing so would be in your best interest.

These are simple examples but recognize that HIPAA is a law that health care providers are required to follow. It is part of your privacy rights over health information, including getting a copy of your information, making sure it’s correct and knowing who has seen it.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, A Patient’s Guide to the HIPAA Privacy Rule: When Health Care Providers May Communicate About You with Your Family, Friends, or Others Involved In Your Care, retrieved from

Financial Caregiving Goals

Rosemary K. Heins, Extension Educator — Family Resource Management

September 2013.

Adult children often do not know much about their parents’ financial situation. This can be a big problem if there is a sudden change in their health and they are no longer able to handle their own monetary affairs.

Advance planning helps a family avoid crisis decision-making, increases the parents’ future options, saves money, reduces sibling disagreements and lessens the possibility of needing to take court action in order to manage a parents’ financial affairs. It can also provide parents and children with peace of mind. The parental peace of mind comes from knowing their wishes are understood and will be carried out.
There are two goals important to caregivers that advance planning achieves. Through planning, caregivers are prepared for an emergency by knowing where to find the parent’s important financial and legal documents. The second goal is that through advance planning parents are encouraged to prepare financial and legal tools, such as durable power of attorney for financial decisions and for medical decisions.
If your parents are healthy and independent, children don’t need to know the specifics of their financial situation. The top priority is to share where parents keep their financial records and what do they want done in an emergency situation. As you learn more about their financial situation, you may not like or agree with their choices. However, remember it is their money and they have a right to make their own financial and estate-planning decisions. Encourage your family elder to seek advice from a qualified professional such as an attorney, accountant, or financial planner.

If your family hasn’t already had this conversation with parents, now could be the best time to start.


Swanson, P.C., Schindler, N., Tran,T. (December 2009), Introduction to Financial Caregiving and Glossary, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, retrieved from

No one really plans to get sick or experience a health-related family crisis. Long term planning can help ensure that you and your family have the resources needed to cover costs and other needs related to health-related care. If you plan for financing long term care, you will also have more options about the type of care you and your loved ones receive. A good first step is to write down your wishes for your health-related care in a health care directive.

If you suddenly find yourself in a caretaker role for someone you love, you most likely will be faced with lots of questions and tasks that need to be accomplished. It helps to have access to additional resources, tools, and insight from other families going through the same situation.

Graduate with Coverage

Lori Hendrickson, Extension Educator — Family Resource Management

June 2014

College graduates may seem like “young invincibles,” but they are the age group most likely to visit emergency rooms. And without health insurance, the expense of a trip to the ER can create a heavy burden. MNsure has launched the “Graduate with Health Coverage” campaign to remind young women and men that they may be eligible for affordable health insurance through the state’s health insurance marketplace.

MNsure reminds young adults across Minnesota that after college graduation, many will lose the health insurance they had through school and the peace of mind that comes with that coverage. MNsure may be an option if certain criteria are met, so college graduates should explore their options on the MNsure site to get covered.

Though the regular Open Enrollment period for 2014 has ended, people with qualifying life events can still enroll, and college graduates may be among those eligible to enroll. While graduation itself is not a qualifying life event, college graduates who experience a qualifying life event — such as the loss of university- or employer-sponsored health insurance that meets minimum essential coverage standards — may be eligible to enroll through MNsure.

Graduates whose income makes them eligible for MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance, and who do not have access to employer-sponsored health insurance, can also enroll through MNsure for coverage through one of those programs.

Visit the MNsure website to see if you qualify. That website is

Featured Resource

Smart Choice Health Insurance© Minnesota Workshop

Curriculum and workshop designed to help families make good health insurance decisions. More

Graduate with Health Coverage

Hear how young women and men may be eligible for affordable health insurance through the state's health insurance marketplace. More

The following resources will help you better manage medical debt through long term planning, create a health care directive, and more.

Health Care Directives Workshop — Arrange for us to come and teach on this important topic. Excellent resource for employee groups, community organizations, and more.

HIPAA and Health Care Privacy — The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 guides health care providers in determining who they can share your information with. Transcript and audio (1:46)

Dealing with Medical Debt — Helpful advice about dealing with medical debt. Transcript and audio (1:36)

Other Recommended Resources

Across Generations: Dealing with Life Transitions — Advice on how to evaluate, set goals, and share your plans with others.

Are Consumers Vulnerable to Low-Knowledge of Long Term Care? — Journal article that reviews consumers' knowledge of long-term care. Written by Amanda E. Matzek and UMN Extension Specialist, Marlene S. Stum; featured in Family & Consumer Sciences Research Journal.

Caregiving — Are you in a caretaker role? Get resources, tools, and insight here.

Healthy Futures — You never know exactly what's going to happen down the road, but you can take steps to protect your health.

Use Your Home to Stay at HomeNational Council on Aging — This is the official reverse mortgage consumer booklet approved by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Financing Long Term Care: Insurance & Its AlternativesUtah State University Cooperative Extension — Reviews long term care options, costs, insurance, and other resources.

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