Patients will pay more for their medical records under proposed rule

Press Release: A national copy company has asked the Florida Board of Medicine to allow Floridians to be charged $1 per page for copies of their medical records, which in many instances would be more than triple the amount now charged.

The copy industry, spearheaded by industry leader HealthPort Technologies, LLC, wants the Florida Board of Medicine to amend the Florida Administrative Code to increase the allowable price charged to patients for copies. It is now $1 per page for the first 25 pages and 25 cents per page thereafter, but this change would increase the cost to $1 for every page.

The Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, AARP, National Organization for Women, Florida Consumer Action Network, Families for Better Care, Florida Community Health Action Information Network, Consumer Federation of the Southeast, Children’s Services Council of Broward County and several other state and national advocacy groups today announced they are against the proposed change, which would impose a significant financial burden on Florida’s most vulnerable populations—the elderly, disabled, and fixed- and low-income consumers. Costs can run into the thousands of dollars, particularly for patients who have voluminous records.

Consumers require copies of their medical records for a variety of reasons. Parents need records from their children’s physicians to enroll children in school, daycare, athletics, or summer camp. Disabled consumers may need records to prove their disability for obtaining benefits. Seniors often need their records to apply for certain programs.

“It’s outrageous that this industry wants to charge $1 a page for copies of medical records,” said Charles Milstead, Associate State Director of AARP Florida. “For most elderly consumers, paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars for such records would pose a major financial burden.”

The increased fee, which does not include any shipping charges, would also apply to entities that make requests on behalf of patients, such as governmental agencies, law firms, and nursing homes. Hospitals would remain excluded. Should the Board of Medicine choose to pass the measure, Florida would rank among the top most expensive states in the nation for consumers to receive their medical records.

As an example, under the current rule, 525 pages of medical records costs a Florida patient $150, but would cost $525 under the proposed new rule (3.4 times higher). And as another example, 1,025 pages of medical records now costs the patient $275, but would cost $1,025 under the proposed rule (3.7 times higher).

“This fee doesn’t match up with what copy companies charge to the general public,” said Alice Vickers, Consumer Advocate for the Florida Consumer Action Network. “It’s exorbitant, and we are urging the Florida Board of Medicine to stand up for patients by denying this request.”

HealthPort’s proposal to amend the rule to increase the prices will be considered by the Florida Board of Medicine at 8 a.m. on Friday, August 2, 2013 at the Hilton Deerfield Beach/Boca Raton, 100 Fairway Drive in Deerfield Beach. The meeting is open to the public and several advocacy groups will be on hand to speak against the measure.
Floridians who wish to voice their opinion on the topic are encouraged to attend that meeting or e-mail their written comments to the Board of Medicine’s Executive Director, Allison M. Dudley, at allison_dudley@doh.state.fl.us.

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