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Why are electronic copies of your medical record so expensive?

If you request an electronic copy of your medical record, or protected health information (PHI) held by a HIPAA-covered entity, you have a right to receive it in paper or electronic form within thirty days. However, the information will only be released if you pay the associated fines. Why are these records so expensive to release?

What is a medical record?

Your medical history lasts from your first breath to your last and often follows you wherever you go. Today, most doctors access this information through a database. This information is protected under law (HIPPA rules) as it could be valuable information to medical companies. This information includes but is not limited to:

· Participation and payments in a health care plan

· Medical record and billing record

· Records created by a medical professional

You have a right to the information within test results, payment records, insurance information, clinical notes and other information that makes up your record. If you request access to your records, they do not have to provide a new analysis of notes or other conclusions that "wrap up" the information within the record.

You do not, however, have an explicit right to access the following:

· Psychotherapy notes

· Provider business information

· Information compiled under a legal or criminal investigation

Why are you charged to access your record?

HIPPA privacy rules impose "reasonable" fees to obtain a copy of your record. The reasonableness of these costs is debatable, as many believe that the fees are an unreasonable obstacle to information about yourself.

These fees are regulated to only cover:

1. Labor of a person who converts physical records to electronic records

2. Supply costs for paper or electronic storage device (such as a USB)

3. Postage

4. A new summary of information (upon request)

It is not lawful for the fees to cover reviewing the request, maintenance, and verification of your medical records, even if such costs are authorized by State law. For example, they cannot threaten to delete your records if you do not pay a yearly fine. Advances in technology allow for more autonomous retrieval methods, which should lower labor costs. If you think you have been unreasonably fined for attempting to access your records, you may be entitled to compensation.

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