Patient Confidentiality: Are Your Medical Records Private?

  • Your medical records are private, and once you turn 18 (in most states, this is the age at which you are legally an adult), your parents are not allowed access to medical information unless you give them permission.
  • Your health information is protected by HIPAA.
  • You can give your family permission be informed about your medical issues by signing a HIPAA Authorization Form Health Care Power of Attorney.
  • This is important should you need urgent medical care and your parents want to know how you are doing.
  • You may find the authorization form on your institution’s website, usually through the student health center webpage.
  • You and your parents should keep a hard copy and a digital copy of your HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form Health Care Power of Attorney.

If You Are a Minor

  • The age of majority (the age at when you are legally considered an adult) varies from state to state. In most states, the age of majority is 18, but in other states, that age is 19 or 21.
  • If you are under 18, your parents will need to sign a consent form for you to be treated.
  • Look on your institution’s website for their policies and the consent form.

If You Are on Your Family’s Health Insurance Plan

If you are on your parent’s or family’s health insurance plan, they may find out if you visit the doctor, what your visit was for, and what tests you may have had, even if you are an adult. This is because the owner of the plan receives an explanation of benefits if the insurance is used. While they may not have access to your test results or medical record, your parent or family may still find out the reason for your visit.

This shouldn’t stop you from getting the medical care you need! If you want to have a test done and you don’t want your family to know, you could explore other options, like paying out of pocket or utilizing free services at a local health department or your student health or wellness center. Talk to the staff at the student health or wellness center for more information about your options.