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Too often, consumers face barriers to getting their health information. You should know you have the right to:

See a Copy

See a Copy

Ask to see a copy of your health data from most doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, or nursing homes.

Get a Copy

Get a Copy

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.


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is a federal law that governs health care transactions, including the privacy and security of your health information. HIPAA sets rules for who can look at and receive your health information. It also gives you rights to access your health information. This is called the individual right of access.



HIPAA now includes the right to an electronic copy of your records, if those records are kept digitally (such as in an electronic medical record) or are “readily producible” electronically (for example, the provider can easily scan a paper record and create a PDF).


If you want a copy, you may have to 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 for paper copies vary from state to state.


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.


Many providers offer patient portals where you can electronically access and download much of your health information. The government has clarified that it is not appropriate to charge patients a fee for this type of electronic access.


The HIPAA right of access also gives you the right to send your information to others of your choosing, such as family members or a mobile health application (app). Learn more about your rights under HIPAA in the new guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services.


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