Too often, consumers face barriers to getting their health information. You should know you have the right to:
- Ask to see and get a copy of your health information from most doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers such as pharmacies and nursing homes, as well as from your health insurance plan.
- Get either a paper or, if records are kept electronically, an electronic copy of your health information.
Learn more about your rights under HIPAA in the new guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services.
If you want a copy, you may have to put your request in writing and pay for the cost of copying and mailing, but not time spent searching for records. Fees for electronic requests may include labor costs for reviewing the request or producing the electronic copy (e.g., on a CD-ROM or USB flash drive), but are expected to be negligible. Fees may vary form state to state, please check out this article to determine your costs.
HIPAA requires that records be sent to you (or someone else at your direction) within 30 days of your request (with one 30-day extension if there is a written statement explaining reasons for the delay). In most cases, your copies must be given to you within 30 days, but timeframes may vary by state.
Clinicians and hospitals participating in the federal “Meaningful Use” program must give patients the ability to view, download and transmit their health information within 4 days of the information being available to clinicians. The government has clarified that it is not appropriate to charge patients a fee for this type of electronic access.