A triad of big name hospitals have come under fire recently for allegedly overcharging patients for copies of their medical records.
Back in March, New York-based Mount Sinai Hospital, Montefiore Medical Group, Beth Israel Medical Center and release of information service company HealthPort
Technologies were slapped with a class action lawsuit for reportedly violating New York State's public health law regarding medical record request fees.
The group of plaintiffs representing some 100 members alleged the three hospitals and HealthPort Technologies, the company responsible for handling the record requests, overcharged patients and clients by up to $0.50 per page. New York Public Health Law stipulates fees for medical records are not to exceed $0.75 per page and that fees are not to exceed the actual costs incurred by the provider.
According to the lawsuit, clients were charged around $0.75 per page when the incurred costs only calculated to $0.25 per page.
Just in 2013, HealthPort allegedly handled and processed more than 14 million pages of medical records for attorneys requesting records from New York healthcare providers, which, if the allegations prove true, would denote an overcharge of approximately $7 million each year, just for cases pertaining to attorney requests.
"Defendants have, individuals, collectively and /or through the use of agent and associations, deliberately engaged in a practice of fixing and charging 'standard' or 'uniform' fees for such medical records at or about seventy-five cents ($0.75) per page (the absolutely maximum or 'cap)…without regard for their actual costs incurred," wrote the plaintiffs.
In addition to the myriad state laws detailing medical record request fees, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, stipulates that healthcare providers and business associates may only claim a "reasonable cost-based fee" for the preparation and transmittal of the records. And, in this case, HIPAA may be relevant.
In accordance with HIPAA, "If a State permits a charge of 25 cents per page, but a covered entity is able to provide an electronic copy at a cost of five cents per page, then the covered entity may not charge more than five cents per page (since that is the reasonable and cost-based amount)."
In a similar case that transpired back in 2005, Recordex Acquisition Corp., a company that handled medical record requests for some 40 Philadelphia-based hospitals, was accused of charging clients at least $1.2 million in overcharges for these requests.
In 2007, a Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed a lower court's judgement siding in favor of the plaintiffs and awarding them nearly $600,000 in a class action settlement.
Under current Pennsylvania law, medical record charges are not to exceed $1.42 for pages 1-20, $1.05 for pages 21-60 and $0.34 for 61 through the end.