The Cost of Medical Records

Medical recordsNot a lot of folks realize it, but nearly all medical providers charge you a fee for a copy of your medical records. These fees can be in the thousands of dollars and come out of your settlement or judgment for your injury.

In the past, medical providers would ask injury victims for $624.51, $722.40 or $455.04 for single requests. Now, such charges are often under $10 and the total cost of records goes from the thousands of dollars to under one-hundred bucks. This is because a change in federal law, through updated HIPAA Rules and the HITECH Act, means that you should no longer be charged these outrageous fees. 45 CFR 164.524.1

Pursuant to the new rules, medical providers can only charge you a reasonable cost-based fee for four things in providing a copy of your records:

  • The cost of labor to copy the records
  • Supplies, this can be paper for physical copies or the cost of a CD
  • Postage
  • The cost of preparing an explanation or summary of the records, if you request one.

Requesting your records electronically can significantly reduce the cost of obtaining your records, as you should only be charged for labor in copying the electronic records to a CD (or DVD), the cost of the CD, and a stamp to send the CD. As an added bonus, your provider has to provide you with an electronic copy if the provider stores the records electronically.

What really helps reduce the cost of pursuing your personal injury claim is that you may direct your records be sent to a third person, like your attorney. The trick is that you have to make the request in writing, sign it, and be clear about who gets the records and where to send them. Otherwise, your attorney would be charged the higher fees, which they would then be required to pass on to you.2 Don’t fret about figuring this out yourself, your attorney will help you prepare and send the appropriate request.

Once the request gets sent off, sit back and wait the maximum thirty days for your attorney to get the records. This is unless your provider requests a need-based, one time, thirty day extension. Additionally, there are a few grounds for denial and your attorney can assist in addressing these.


1Washington State specifically directs providers to follow the new HIPAA rules. WAC 246-08-400 (4) (“HIPAA covered entities shall refer to HIPAA regulation 45 C.F.R. 164.524 (c)(4)”). The laws of all states, however, are generally preempted by this change in the federal rules.

2All attorneys are required to pass on these costs pursuant to attorney professional conduct rules. RPC 1.8(e).

Jesse Jacobs
Jesse Jacobs
Jesse Jacobs received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) with the distinction of Magna Cum Laude and Dean’s List honors from Seattle University School of Law, and is admitted to practice law in Washington State and Oregon.
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