Essential legal documents for managing your healthcare

Health and medical FAQs

You can help protect your healthcare choices with legal documents such as Living Wills, Advanced Healthcare Directives and Healthcare Power of Attorneys. We can help you complete these forms and distribute them to the proper interested parties.

How is a Living Will enforced?

A Living Will or Health Care Directive is usually followed as long as the concerned parties know the document exists. A close family member, your doctor and your local hospital should have access to a copy of the documents, so it can be followed should you become incapacitated. A Living Will outlines what medical procedures you approve of to attempt to preserve your life and instructions for your end-of-life care.

The instructions in your Living Will may not be followed if:

  • It goes against the care provider's educated judgment
  • The instructions go against the medical facilities' policies
  • The directives go against industry-accepted standards
  • You are discovered to be pregnant

To help ensure that your instructions are followed, it may help to appoint Healthcare Proxy. This person, also sometimes called a Medical or Healthcare Power of Attorney can be appointed to make medical choices for you should you become unable.

Am I allowed to have copies of my own medical records?

In most cases, according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) you can request your own medical records. If you are not allowed to have a copy of your medical records, you can usually review them at the medical provider's office. Once you submit a request to see your medical records, your provider should respond to your request within 30 days. You should be able to obtain your medical records, doctor's notes, test and lab results, and billing information.

If you need to obtain records from a closed practice or a retired doctor, your records are often still available. To find your records, contact the original office, your health insurance company, your local medical society, or the local hospitals to help locate your records. Once you obtain your medical records, it is up to you to keep them private. Only share your records with required persons and keep your copies in your safe.

What happens if I don't have health insurance?

Low-income persons can often qualify for Medicaid or Medicare and higher income individuals can often afford insurance via the exchange or private insurance. However, increasingly middle income, or above-poverty earners, are questioning whether they can afford health insurance. 2018 is the last year that tax penalties may apply to those who didn't have health insurance in 2018.

If you don't have health insurance you may,

  • Have to pay a tax penalty if you don't have a qualified exemption.
  • Incur a large medical debt.
  • Not get the preventative care you may need.

Many who have insurance are still feeling challenged to come up with the funds to cover premiums, copayments and deductibles. When you are choosing your insurance carriers it is important to consider the total cost of the coverage and not just the premium. To obtain health insurance you may choose an employer-sponsored program, Medicaid, Medicare (65+), your state's exchange program, private insurance or a religious shared coverage program.

“I remember why I first signed up for Rocket Lawyer. I was going into the hospital for major surgery. I was going to be under for at least seven hours and so I thought it wise to draw up a will. It made my time in the hospital easier knowing I had handled that, before I went in.”

Peter M.

Rocket Lawyer member since 2016