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Be sure to follow laws and rules for releasing medical records
e-Reports, March 7, 2011
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Timing and information

The insurance department seeks your opinion
The Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI) is considering updating the medical records copying rule to address charges for providing records electronically and has asked the ISMA for input. If you have suggestions, please contact Julie Reed at the ISMA at (317) 261-2060 or (800) 257-4762.

Indiana law does not provide a specific timeframe in which you must release a patient’s medical record. However, federal HIPAA laws require you to provide patients copies of their medical records within 30 days of request. If not, you must give a reason for any delay within 30 days of receipt of the request for release.

Patients are entitled to their medical records as long as they provide the following:

  • Name and address
  • Name of the person requested to release the patient's record
  • Name of the person or provider to whom the patient's health record is to be released
  • Purpose of the release
  • Description of information to be released
  • Signature of patient, or of patient's legal representative if the patient is incompetent.
  • Date on which the consent is signed
  • Statement that the consent is subject to revocation at any time, except to the extent that action has been taken in reliance on the consent
  • Date, event or condition on which consent expires if not previously revoked

Find more information about patient medical records under legal resources on the ISMA website.

Copying fees
Double check your billing procedures. Are you or your vendors charging the permissible amounts to copy patient medical records? Are you adding sales tax to those fees?

The ISMA reminds you that Indiana law stipulates the maximum amount of duplication fees you can charge for medical records. They include:

  • $20 labor fee
  • $1 per page (pages 1 through 10, only if no labor fee charged)
  • $0.50 per page (pages 11 through 50)
  • $0.25 per page (pages 51 and higher)
  • Actual mailing costs (does not include “handling”)
  • $10 rush fee if records are to be provided within two business days
  • $20 certifying fee (if appropriate)

“Medical record copying fees are not subject to sales tax,” advised Julie Reed, ISMA legal counsel.”Physicians who exceed the state law maximums are subject to discipline by the Medical Licensing Board.”

Medicaid providers cannot charge Medicaid patients for records. Also, the Medical Licensing Board determined physicians cannot refuse to provide medical records to patients for a past-due balance, noted Reed.

However, according to the Indiana Department of Insurance, you can charge and collect copy charges before releasing medical records – unless to do so would interfere with patient continuity of care.

Finally, doctors are required to consider waiving or reducing the charges for copies of records if the request is from another health care provider to whom the patient was referred for treatment or from whom the patient is seeking a second opinion, or if the patient is requesting the records for personal use and the charges cause the patient an undue financial hardship.

Otherwise, the law doesn’t distinguish between who is receiving the records or why, and the above amounts can be charged unless you have a signed a contract that says otherwise.

Find details about releasing patient medical records on the ISMA website legal area.

Copyright: Information written and displayed on www.ismanet.org is the property of ISMA and may not be reproduced without expressed written permission of the Indiana State Medical Association.

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