Teen's Rights to Health Care

Getting the Health Care Your Child Needs

Everyone agrees that it’s best if parents can help their kids get the care they need. If a child is under 18 and lives with a parent, the parent must agree to most kinds of medical care before it can be given to a child. In some families, however, that can’t always happen. So, there are laws in California and in other states designed to help young teens get certain kinds of health care they need.

There are some services that youth in California can get without a parent's help before they turn 18. Usually, the clinic cannot tell you if your son or daughter is getting those services.

This chart will tell you what services your kids can get by themselves in California. Check your own state’s laws and regulations.

Health care services that anyone of any age can get for themselves:

Service

What the Doctor can and cannot do (by law)

Pregnancy Care

Birth Control (Except sterilization)

Abortion

The doctor cannot tell you anything about birth control, abortion, or pregnancy care they are giving your child, unless your child tells them they can.

Sexual Assault Services (referring to rape and crimes of a sexual nature)

If your child is younger then 12 years old, the doctor must try to call you unless the doctor thinks it would be risky for your child.

Emergency Care

You should be able to see the records, unless the doctor thinks it would be risky for your child.

X-rays to show child abuse or neglect

A doctor can x-ray a patient without permission from the patient or the parents or guardians if the doctor thinks the patient has been abused or neglected. These records may be shared in court.

Health care services that anyone 12 and over can get for themselves:

Service

What the doctor can and cannot do (by law)

Mental Health / Shelter Services

The doctor must try to get your help with the care your child needs, unless they think it would harm your child. You cannot see the medical records unless your child says you can.

Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Some doctors  must try to call the parents; others cannot call the parents.

HIV testing and care

STD testing and care

Doctors cannot tell you anything about HIV or STD tests or care they have given your son or daughter, unless your son or daughter tells them they can.

Another right teens have is that they may be excused from school to access sexual and reproductive health services without parental consent or notification. Learn more here on TeenSource.org.

For more information about your teen’s rights to health care, visit www.teenhealthrights.org.

New Law: Confidential Health Information Act

As of January 1, 2015, anyone who is covered under another person’s health plan in California – like a parent’s or spouse’s health plan- can take action to keep their sensitive health information private. The Confidential Health Information Act (SB 138) gives individuals the option of submitting a Confidential Communications Request to their health plan provider requesting that they not share confidential health information with the health plan’s policy holder (usually a parent or spouse.) To learn more about the Confidential Health Information Act and how it might impact you or your teen, go to myhealthmyinfo.org.

Resources for Your Teen

Essential Access Health