The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of a patient’s medical records, as well as other health information.
Similarly, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of students. FERPA applies to all educational institutions receiving federal funds.
The importance of HIPAA and FERPA to study abroad students and their parents is that they can block parents from obtaining information about their child, or from being able to make medical decisions for their child.
Ideally, before a student begins college, privacy laws should be a family conversation. And surely, before a student begins studying abroad, a power of attorney should be obtained. Make certain that this document will apply internationally. In the event of an emergency, it should allow parents to obtain information about their ill or injured child, and if necessary, make decisions for their child.