- South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has signed into law a bill that limits the amount providers can charge patients for a digital copy of their health record.
- Under the new law, the maximum charge for a digital record is $150, regardless of the number of pages in the record or the number of admissions. The maximum charge for a paper record is $200 per hospital admission.
- The law replaces 1992 legislation that permitted costs of 65 cents for the first 30 pages, 50 cents per page after 30 pages, a maximum $15 clerical fee and shipping costs and sales tax related to the "search and duplication" of the record. Hospitals had been using the same rates to calculate costs for digital records as well as paper records.
As providers increasingly move towards the digitization of records and implement (and hopefully improve) EHRs, state legislatures will be forced to catch up with the market. In many states, these laws were written before the advent of of digital records, and the result of outdated legislation is outlandish fees against which patients—"consumers"—will rebel.
The South Carolina legislation was sparked by the case of Gloria Aslanidis, who in August requested her father's 7,000-page record from Medical University Hospital. They charged her the full amount permissible under the law, $3,801.30, for the digital copy. Other states charge similar fees; Georgia's, for example, are even higher than South Carolina's at 75 cents for the first 20 pages, 65 cents for pages 21 through 100 and 50 cents thereafter. The law in that state, however, specifies that those charges are for "copying costs for a record which is in paper form."
Patient record costs are also getting increased attention in New York, where an ongoing lawsuit claims that Beth Israel Medical Center, Montefiore Medical Group, Mount Sinai Hospital and HealthPort Technologies overcharged patients and customers by up to 50 cents per page.