What Are My Health Care Rights and Responsibilities

doctor looking at the folder

Health care is an extremely important issue for everyone. This runs across all boundaries, including age, race, religion, sex, income level, and so much more. Providing people with the best medical treatment possible is vital to society as a whole because it helps improve lives both socially and economically.

This article will outline some fundamental rights and responsibilities regarding health care in emergencies. Hopefully, this will clear up any confusion and allow for a smoother process if you or someone else encounters an emergency situation.

doctor listening to her patient

1. Emergency Situations

Under US law, a person has the right to refuse medical treatment if they are conscious and mentally capable of making the decision. This is called “informed refusal.” However, exceptions depend on the type of care you’re refusing.

For example, someone under the age of 18 cannot legally refuse life-saving treatment for an illness or injury. This also includes mental health treatment in some cases.

If you are unconscious due to an accident or illness, emergency care must be given immediately unless there’s a document on file, known as a living will, that states otherwise.

2. Who Decides?

If you are conscious, then you have the right to decide what type of medical treatment you want or do not want. This decision can be made for incapacitated people due to age, illness, injury, or mental status. However, if you are under 18 years of age, you cannot make this decision for yourself.

In an emergency situation where the patient is unable to make their own decisions, a family member or legal guardian must be contacted immediately and consulted about treatment options. If no one can be reached in time, the patient’s next-of-kin should be contacted and given the opportunity to provide input.

3. Who is Responsible?

When someone is unable to decide what type of medical care they want, a family member or legal representative must be consulted as soon as possible before any procedures are performed. If you do not have a living will and no one can make decisions on your behalf, the patient’s next-of-kin is responsible for making decisions regarding patient care.

This person is usually a family member such as a spouse, parent, or adult child; however, it can also be someone like an attorney or health care proxy (someone you’ve designated to make medical decisions on your behalf). Whoever this person is must be notified immediately and consulted about patient care before any procedures are performed.

4. What if I Can’t Afford My Medical Bills?

If you cannot cover the cost of your medical bills, federal law states that patient care cannot be denied because of the inability to pay. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) also stipulates that patient care must never be denied based on nonpayment of patient balances.

If you receive patient care in a public hospital, patient care must never be denied due to nonpayment of patient balances. You should still check with your local or state government agency for more information on how this applies to you and what might happen if the bill is not paid.

If you receive patient care from a private hospital or medical provider, patient care may be denied for nonpayment of patient balances. However, patient care must not be denied until all reasonable collection efforts have been exhausted and patient care has been determined to be medically necessary. In addition, the hospital or medical provider would have to notify you in writing at least ten days before patient care is denied.

It is better to be a part of patient advocacy foundation sponsorships and become well-informed about patient rights.

6. Do I Have to Pay for Copies of my Medical Records?

According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), patient medical records may not be shared without authorization from the patient or legal guardian. This means that patient records are patient property, and patient consent must be given before patient medical records can be released to anyone without the patient’s permission.

This is true even if you receive patient care from a hospital, clinic, or another medical provider that is not part of your primary health insurance carrier’s network. Your primary health insurance carrier may request patient records related to your care with that carrier, but patient records cannot be released to your primary health insurance carrier without patient consent.

The patient has the right to make decisions about their own health care, including what type of care they want or do not want. If a patient is unable to make their own medical decisions, a family member or legal guardian must be contacted immediately and consulted about treatment options before any procedures are performed.

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