To help patients access their health records more easily, Congress should require doctors to provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information upon request.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established the right for individuals to obtain a paper copy of their health care records from their doctors. Congress should update this legislation to require doctors to provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information upon request. Under the current law, health care providers can charge reasonable fees associated with the cost of copying and mailing paper health care records, but they cannot charge fees for the time spent searching for or retrieving the records. We propose establishing a threshold date after which patients will no longer be charged for electronic copies of their health records. created after the threshold date. Patients would be charged only for paper records from before this date. This mandate would protect patients’ right of access to their medical information while also providing an economic incentive for medical practices to move to EHRs.