Sandy, a 16-year old, goes to see her pediatrician because she wants birth control pills. She does not tell her parents she is going to the doctor. Sandy's mom receives a bill from the pediatrician. She calls to find out why she is receiving a bill, the office staff tells her that they cannot discuss any matters related to Sandy's health with her. Sandy's mom says, "Well, I'm not paying unless I know why my 16-year old daughter went to the doctor."
Does Sandy's mom have a legal right to know why her daughter went to the doctor?
No. Under health information privacy laws (HIPAA), healthcare providers are not allowed to give private medical information out without a patient's consent. Only in the case where the patient is unable to consent, such as a child under 12, is the healthcare provider allowed to discuss the child's condition with a parent without the child's consent.
Does Mom still have to pay the bill?
Yes. Under the Doctrine of Necessities, a parent is financially responsible for a minor child's healthcare unless a court has ruled otherwise, e.g., termination of parental rights, custody issues.
As usual, every situation is unique. Please consult with an attorney to determine all of the legal options available.
Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C.
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