State and federal regulations ensure that copying medical records remains affordable for patients while reimbursing medical practices for copying costs.
Physicians have not traditionally sought to make a profit on providing medical records, but they have sought to recover their costs. This is allowed by law.
Copying a medical record, particularly that of an older adult who has been to the doctor many times, can take an hour or more.
Your request for your medical record
You have the right to request a copy of your medical record for your use.
A medical record for a patient is defined by state regulation as all “clinical information pertaining to the patient which has been accumulated by the physician, either by himself or through his agents.”
- Diagnostic test results
- Physician notes
- Any records from prior treating or consulting physicians
You are not entitled to the original record. Please remember physicians (and other health care providers) are required by law to keep patient records for a set period of time, so they take maintenance of these records very seriously.
Considerations and 2012 copying fees
Under federal regulations known as HIPAA, patients may be charged a copying fee but may not be charged for the cost of searching for and retrieving medical records.
The 2012 medical records copying fees are effective Jan. 1, 2012. The following charge list does not apply to an X-ray or any other part of a medical record that cannot be photocopied.
|Charge to Patient|
|Pages 1-20||Cost up to $1.39/page|
|Pages 21-60||Cost up to $1.03/page|
|Pages 61+||Cost up to $.34/page|
In addition to the amounts listed, patients also may be charged for the actual cost of postage, shipping, and delivery of records.
Other requests for medical records
Physician’s offices must follow different rules when copying medical records for the government or for insurance companies as opposed to individual patients. For instance, district attorneys will pay a flat fee of $20.62 in 2012.
Some insurers may require the physician to forward patient records to another physician within a network at no charge. In the instance of Medicare and Medicaid, medical records must be forwarded without charge.