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 March 25, 2020

Coronavirus: Healthcare Considerations

Young woman pushing her mother in a wheelchair through the garden

Ensuring your protection during the coronavirus outbreak

While you’re taking every step possible to ensure the health of yourself and your family during the current coronavirus crisis, there remains a chance that you or a loved one will need to interact with the healthcare system during the outbreak. Nerve-racking even under the best of circumstances, visiting a hospital amidst a health crisis is cause for tremendous worry. We’re here to try and answer some of your most pressing questions on the legal side of healthcare so that you and your family can focus on recovery.

Frequently asked healthcare questions amid coronavirus crisis:

  1. Medical insurance
  2. Power of Attorney and medical documentation
  3. Personal information safety

Medical insurance

What happens to my medical insurance if I lose my job?

Economic realities are forcing employers to lay off employees or reduce hours, and for many, that means the loss of health insurance for themselves and their families.  Fortunately, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows employees of companies of 20 or more to elect to keep their current group health plan, provided that they meet the standard for qualifying events; namely, that they have their employment terminated for reasons other than gross misconduct or have their working hours reduced. This allows employees to stay on with their current health care plan for 18 to 36 months, although the cost for the premiums is paid by the individual, so for those out of work, it may seem like trading one problem for another.

Power of Attorney and medical documentation

Should I give someone power of attorney if I become ill?

Your illness is challenging enough for your family, and that difficulty is only made worse by a lack of clarity surrounding your wishes and who should make the important decisions. Even with an advance directive in place, having someone with the authority of a power of attorney alleviates any messy disputes between family members and ensures that your treatment conforms to your wishes, not those of others.

What legal documents should I consider if I am admitted to the hospital?

  • Advance Directive
    An advance directive (sometimes called a Living Will) includes instructions about your wishes for treatment if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate. You can also appoint a health care proxy to see that your directions are followed.
  • Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) and Do Not Resuscitate Orders
    Depending on the state, a POLST and a Do Not Resuscitate Order are similar but not the same. Neither are intended to replace the Advance Directive. A patient with a serious illness can communicate to doctors what interventions they should or should not take in emergency treatments.
  • Power of Attorney
    A power of attorney grants a trusted representative the ability to speak for you regarding your medical treatment should you be incapacitated. A power of attorney can grant the power immediately or only upon your incapacity.  A power of attorney will enable your chosen agent (often referred to as attorney-in-fact) to make important decisions without having to worry about any family squabbles.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Release
    HIPAA was created to keep patients’ medical information private, but that privacy extends even to your family without a release form. A HIPAA release allows for your protected health information to be shared with other individuals for organizations.

The necessary documents for your healthcare needs require an eye towards detail to ensure that all possibilities and eventualities are covered. LegalShield Members can consult with an attorney, get document review and have a document drafted if needed for a fraction of the fee you’d otherwise pay a law firm. Learn more about LegalShield plans starting at $24.95 a month.

Personal information safety

How can I ensure that my personal information stays safe?

Unfortunately, a crisis presents an opportunity for bad actors to take advantage of people’s fears and panic for their personal gain. People are desperate for information on the coronavirus and its spread, and a cure for themselves and loved ones should they contract the disease.  Apps that track the spread of the disease may be loaded with malware, and fake cures have begun to pop up online and elsewhere. While the Justice Department and the FTC & FDA have begun to crack down on hackers and scammers, you still need to be concerned about protecting your personal information (and your money.)

LegalShield’s IDShield can help to protect against identity theft and fraud starting at just $12.95 per month.

LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract at legalshield.com for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal or medical advice. Please contact a medical professional for medical advice or assistance and an attorney for legal advice or assistance.


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