When your young person goes to see a health professional it can be hard to know what to expect. What will you be told? How will you know what’s happening? And how as a parent can you stay involved but also respect your child’s right to privacy?
Every health professional works differently but there are some key principles they must follow. These relate to privacy and confidentiality, and what’s known as ‘duty of care’. How involved you are in the treatment process will depend upon the age of the young person, where they are at in their recovery process and how much they want you to be involved.
There will probably be times when a young person calls on others for help and does not involve their parents or guardians directly. This can be difficult to accept, but it’s also an important part of young people developing their skills as responsible independent adults – making their own decisions about their health and wellbeing.
It can be hard to find the right balance – showing your love and care while also respecting their privacy – but regular, open conversations with your young person about how the treatment is going and what you can do to help offers the best chance for shared understanding.
“Our GP was terrific and kept me informed as much as she could. She was able often to convince my daughter to do something and then agree for me to be told.” Jeannette, parent
Confidentiality and Medicare
There are many health services available for young people, including doctors and mental health professionals that young people can access through the Medicare system. These services are free or partly paid for by the government.
Young people need their own Medicare card or their number on the family card to ensure they have easy access to health services.
Young people aged 15 or older can have their own Medicare card. This is a simple process requiring them to fill out a Medicare Copy/Transfer Application form and attend a Medicare or DHS Service Centre with identification (such as birth certificate, student id or passport). Having their own card means that all information about their use of Medicare services remains confidential.
If a young person is under 14 years, parents will be able to see what services the young person has used, and when and who is offering the service by reviewing their Medicare claims history. This does not outline the content of the sessions.
If a young person is older than 14 years, parents will be able to see the service that the young person has accessed and when, but it does not show bulk billing claims or any details of the service.
My Health Record
A My Health Record is an online summary of your health information, such as medicines you are taking, any allergies you may have and treatments you have received. Your My Health Record allows your doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers (such as physiotherapists) to view your health information, in accordance with your access controls. You are also able to access it online yourself.
If you have parental responsibility for a person under 18, you can register for a My Health Record as their authorised representative. When you register, you can consent to the inclusion of Medicare information in their My Health Record if you wish. This includes Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data.
Young people can apply to manage their own record from the age of 14. If they choose not to, you will continue to be responsible for it until they turn 18. Any MBS and/or PBS data will not be accessible once the young person turns 14.