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Know your healthcare rights
 We have all experienced the healthcare system. Honestly, can you say you are looking forward to your next experience? Part of the issue is the uncertainty of what we will find out. How-
Healthcare power of attorney
 ever, most of our anxiety and frustration is about the feeling that we are not in control. Well, you can be, and you have the right to be in total control of your health and your care.
You have the right to appoint an agent to act on your be- half to make all healthcare decisions for you if you are un- able or unwilling to do so. Please do not risk leaving that power in the hands of medical providers instead of your
family or trusted friend.
Importantly, this essential document also includes
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is an often-abused, federally protected patient healthcare protection. Unfortunately, most of us roll our eyes at the mention of those letters, because typically the process brings bureaucratic delivery, seemingly endless, unnecessary paperwork and lack of ease. Consequently, HIPAA is often a sword against us rather than a shield protecting us.
Healthcare essential rights
HIPAA guarantees your fundamental healthcare rights:
• You have the right to request and receive copies of all of your healthcare records. Don’t let any medical provider tell you different or delay producing your healthcare re- cords. I know from legal experience with medical errors or less-than-ideal treatment, the production of records slows down. If you are ever on the receiving end of im- proper care or malpractice, immediately demand to see every single one of your records, including all nurses’ notes, lab testing, X-rays, etc. This information is essen- tial even if your care was excellent. It is your healthcare history, and it can be critical to successful and timely
treatment in the future.
• You have the right to share this information with others
and request that your provider do so.
• You must receive your medical records within 30 days.
• Medical record production cannot be denied if your bill
is not paid in full.
• You can request delivery of your records on paper, digi-
tally or viewed online. Today, having a digital healthcare dashboard is a feature that should be common for health- care providers. It allows you to have all your records in an easily viewed and indexed digital platform. Your entire healthcare history can be available to you instantly and, importantly, be available for your subsequent healthcare treatment and discussion of options.
Informed consent
This notion that we are in the dark about our healthcare his- tory and options for treatment and hand over our health and welfare to medical providers is what we grew up expecting. Most hospitals have patient advocates available to help you ful- ly understand your condition and treatment options. Use them.
Always insist on a thorough and understandable explanation of your treatment, options, expected outcomes and access to second or third opinions. It is your health and your future, and you are entitled to it.
your comprehensive instructions on life support, access to your medical records and whether you wish to avoid prolonged suffering or extend your life for as long as possible. You can also choose to spend your last days at home and pro-
vide for your final plans and wishes.
Power of attorney (POA) documents are readily available and
customized to your specific wishes. In the POAs I prepare, I in- clude the insistence that your family has access to be with you in your hospital room or to see you electronically via FaceTime, Zoom or other digital means. This recent practice of allowing people to suffer alone and even die alone is unconscionable.
All your healthcare directives are included in your preferred living trust estate plan.
Unfortunately, when we seek medical treatment, we almost certainly do not have our healthcare POA with us. Today there is a service, Docubank, that will provide you with a wallet card that allows any medical provider to access your POA 24/7/365 anywhere in the world.
Docubank gives my clients a 65 percent discount — only $25 a year for this card that also can include your emergency con- tact person, family members and a medical snapshot. Call my office, and we will make sure you are given the discount.
Living trusts
At the end of your life, or at incapacitation, if you have prop- erty or bank accounts in your name, they risk probate.
• A will must be probated. The rule is no one can legal- ly sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
• A living trust completely avoids probate.
• Your financial accounts, life insurance policies and de-
ferred compensation accounts can name your living trust
as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations.
• A living trust estate plan includes both healthcare and financial power of attorney documents. It also consists of a last will and testament. A will is necessary for guard- ianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your
name out of probate.
Call my office today to lock in your FOP 33 percent reduced
rate for a complete living trust estate plan. You can also request a discounted registration form for Docubank.
Tom Tuohy is the founder of Tuohy Law Offices and the FOP Ben- efits Plan. He has been a police lawyer for over three decades. His father was a CPD detective, and his grandfather was CPD Chief of Major Investigations. You can reach Tom at 312-559-8400 or visit his office in Oakbrook Terrace.

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