Home for the Holidays:
Protect Your College Age Children at Cona Elder Law’s Health Care Proxy Wednesdays
Imagine this scenario: you are the parent of a college student. Your telephone rings one evening and on the other end is your child’s roommate telling you that your child was just rushed to the emergency room. You call the hospital for information and identify yourself as the parent. The hospital advises you that because your child is 18, they cannot provide you with any information. It is at that moment that you realize you have as much of a chance of getting healthcare information about a stranger as you do your own child.
To protect college age children, Jennifer Cona, Esq., managing partner of Cona Elder Law, elder law and estate planning firm in Melville, LI, advises young adults to sign a health care proxy naming an agent, such as a parent. Parents will then be contacted immediately if a child is seriously ill or injured and they will have the authority to communicate with medical professionals and make health care decisions for that child if the child is unable to do so. In addition, if drafted correctly, the health care proxy will give parents access to their child’s medical records, allowing them to make informed decisions.
While college kids are home for the holidays, Cona Elder Law will host a series of Health Care Proxy Wednesdays for College Age Kids. Every Wednesday in December and January at their offices located at 225 Broadhollow Road in Melville, college students and their parents can meet with a Cona Elder Law attorney to execute a Health Care Proxy. Participants will also receive a wallet card identifying their agent with contact information as well as a USB drive with pertinent information for themselves and their agent.
For more information or to RSVP for Health Care Proxy Wednesdays for College Age Kids, contact Sarah Carpenter at 631-390-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Parents don’t automatically have the legal right to access their child's medical information in part because of the HIPAA laws,” says Ms. Cona. “While it is certainly important to protect the confidentiality and security of healthcare information, many parents are unaware that they lose rights in this regard when their children reach age 18.” Without a signed health care proxy from the student, medical professionals are required to get approval from the patient, which can be impossible in certain critical or emergency situations.
According to Ron Roel, a freelance journalist and author on LI, parents don’t think of having their children at age 18 sign this critical document. “They’re probably not viewing them as adults perhaps because they still pay for their medical and other expenses,” he explains.
Ron and his wife Betty Ann turned to Cona Elder Law to have their twin sons James and Thomas, who attend the University of Tampa, sign health care proxies. Since Ron is involved in the estate planning field and has read about some tragic cases that could have been avoided involving college kids, he realized how important the proxy was for his own children. “You need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” said Ron.
There have been several tragic cases that emphasize the need for a proxy. For example, a first year student at University of Rochester was going to the university counseling center because of a drug problem. Since the daughter had not given consent for her parents to be told about any aspects of her health, they couldn't intervene and come to her aid. Before the parents knew anything about their daughter’s situation, she died tragically from a drug overdose in her dorm room.
Cona Elder Law is recognized as a leading elder law and estate planning firm on Long Island. The firm has been ranked the #1 Elder Law firm by Long Island Business News for the past 6 years and has been a finalist in the HIA Business Achievement Awards. Cona Elder Law is also recognized for its charitable works and has received the Outstanding Corporation Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The firm provides creative advocacy and cutting edge planning strategies and has been featured in many publications including: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, L.I. Business News, Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, The Daily News, The New York Post, Kiplinger’s, Reader's Digest and many others. Cona Elder Law attorneys have appeared as guests on WNBC-TV, WABC-TV, CNN-fn, News 12, WLNY News 55 and many radio stations including WOR, WCBS AM, WBAB and WFAN.