The Cost of Obtaining Medical Records in Florida

penncourtThe Orlando Sentinel reports that Florida Medical Association is asking is asking the Florida legislature change the law to increase what doctors may charge for to obtain copies of medical records. Currently, Florida doctors can charge $1 per page for the first 25 pages and 25 thereafter.

Believe me, I realize the retrieval costs are such that doctors are not making money producing medical records at this price. But should they be? Patients are entitled to their medical records. Personal injury lawyers in Florida have characterized the Florida doctors’ request as a backdoor strategy to avoid medical malpractice claims. I’m not sure that an increase in the cost of medical records is going to do that. But I also don’t see why the current prices don’t adequately give reimburse doctors for their costs of producing medical records.

The Collecting Medical Record Scam

HIPAA allows health care providers to charge a “reasonable, cost-based fee”for:

  • The cost of the production, including supplies and labor (which is always wildly over billed)
  • Postage and shipping
  • The costs associated with a summary which we never ask for

You would think an electronic record would be a lot cheaper but half of the time they make this more expensive then just getting a hard copy.  I don’t know why. Wait, I do know why.  There are two reasons: (1) money and (2) to make medical malpractice actions more difficult to investigate.

I’m not the only one who has noticed this.  The American Health Information Management Association says hospitals and doctors should not be charging anything more than a dollar to send patients their electronic records.  Eventually, people are going to wake up on this issue.

Discouraging Medical Malpractice Cases

I alluded to this earlier.  It is a big thing.  Let’s say there is a 5% chance a doctor committed malpractice that killed someone you love.  It is hard to entice a lawyer to spend $2,000 to collect records on a case that is very unlikely to be a case. So is the victim’s family who might already be going under financial hardship going to put up $2,000 of their own money?  That is a really tough thing to do, right?  This is exactly why health care providers do not want to give you your medical records on a disc even when this can be done in a matter of seconds.