What is a Medical Waiver?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2018
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The term “medical waiver” can be used in a number of different senses. All refer to a legal form which someone fills out with the intent of releasing someone else from medical liability. The nature of a waiver can vary, and it may be approved automatically or may be subject to review by someone who determines whether or not it is appropriate. As with other legal forms, it is important to fill it out accurately and correctly.

One form is the medical liability waiver or medical release. These types of waivers may be required from people who are engaging in activities that could pose a risk to their health. By signing the waiver, the person indicates that she or he will not hold someone else responsible for injuries incurred during these activities. For example, before skydiving, someone might need to sign a waiver indicating that he or she has been informed about the risks and will not hold the skydiving company liable for injuries.

Another type is a medical insurance waiver. Colleges and universities often require students to join student health care or insurance programs for the purpose of ensuring that all students have coverage. People with adequate coverage of their own can request a waiver so that they do not need to pay health fees on top of maintaining their private coverage and they will be exempted from the requirement.


Waivers may also be required for people with certain medical conditions who want to join the military or law enforcement. As a general rule, people in good physical condition are preferred. Someone who has a disability such as a chronic illness would normally be excluded, unless the recruit applies for and is granted a medical waiver that allows her or him to serve. Such waivers are evaluated individually to determine whether or not it would be appropriate to grant the request.

Certain government health care programs such as Medicaid in the United States may provide waivers as well. In this case, they exempt people from normal requirements and are designed to provide more flexibility so that people can get appropriate treatment and care. For example, a person with disabilities who would normally need to be treated in an institution could receive a medical waiver for home health care so that she or he could stay independent and remain at home.


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Post 2

I have heard it suggested that doctors carry medical waiver forms on them at all times. This is a bit sad really, as it is to protect them from being sued if they try to help someone in need. Personally, I think that there should be a law that if a person asks for help (or is unconscious and obviously needs help) that a doctor should be exempt from being sued, except maybe in cases of real negligence.

The idea that I might be within hands reach of a doctor when I or someone from my family is in trouble, and they might be having to weigh up the possibility of being sued before they help is scary.

On the other hand, asking people to sign a waiver when their life is possibly in danger would probably not work anyway, as it could seem like they were forced into it.

You just can't win.

Post 1

I always think of a medical waiver form as that kind of waiver they make you sign if you are leaving the hospital against medical advice. It seems like people have to do that quite often in medical TV shows but I don't know how often it occurs in real life.

I suppose that is similar to those people with disabilities who want to be able to live at home, or maybe people with a chronic or fatal illness who would prefer to be outside a hospital.

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