Mid-Atlantic Health Law TOPICS
Charging for Copies of Medical Records
There is much confusion as to whether a Maryland health care provider may or may not charge a patient for copying his or her medical record, upon the request of the patient. The short answer is that Maryland health care providers currently may charge such a fee. Presently, the charge for copying may not exceed 59 cents per page. However, in addition to the copying fee, a Maryland health care provider may presently charge a preparation and retrieval fee not to exceed $17.90, as well as the actual postage cost. (The 59 cents and $17.90 are periodically adjusted for inflation.) Further, except for an emergency request from a unit of State or local government concerning a child protective services case or an adult protective services case, a Maryland health care provider may refuse to copy the record until the fee for copying has been paid. Some of the foregoing, however, will likely change when the privacy regulations, issued as part of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), go into effect. While these regulations allow health care providers to charge for copying and postage, the preamble to the regulations states that health care providers may not charge fees for retrieving or processing a request for a medical record. Therefore, in all likelihood, on or after April 14, 2003, the effective date of the HIPAA privacy regulations, Maryland health care providers will no longer be able to charge a preparation fee of up to $17.90.
December 21, 2001