Ask the Expert

Charging patient prep fees

I know that we can no longer charge a patient the prep fee for copying their medical records. Who can we charge the prep fee to?

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Actually, unless you're referring to the accounting of PHI disclosures as outlined in Section 164.528 of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, covered entities are permitted to charge reasonable, cost-based copying fees to individuals seeking to obtain a copy of their medical record under their right of access provided by the Privacy Rule. This is outlined in Section 164.524(c)(4). If charged to anyone else, I'm not a lawyer so I can't provide legal advice, but I'm guessing that would be mandated by other state legislation or would simply boil down to being an individual business decision made by your organization. Given the impact this could have on your organization, please obtain outside legal and/or consulting expertise to confirm this.

For more information on this topic, visit these other resources:
News & Analysis: Final HIPAA privacy changes announced
Ask the Expert: Resources for building a HIPAA knowledge base
Best Web Links: Securing health care/health services

This was first published in October 2002

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