The health care industry needs more transparency, not less. But the Florida Board of Medicine is headed in exactly the wrong direction. For more than a year, one of its committees has been considering a proposal to make it more costly for patients to get access to records about their own care. The plan being driven by medical records companies is more about profit or curtailing access than it is sound public policy. The board, which is expected to review the proposal early next year, should reject this price increase.
For more than a year, medical record companies and some doctors have been pushing to raise the fees they are allowed to charge patients for providing them copies of their own records. Patients now pay $1 for the first 25 pages of documents and 25 cents for each additional page. Now a Board of Medicine committee is considering raising the maximum price to $1 per page for both photocopies or electronic records — the same price doctors are now allowed to charge attorneys, even when they're acting on behalf of a patient, and that hospitals are allowed to charge.
But just because the price varies for others doesn't justify raising the price for patients. And it's nonsensical that patients would be charged the same price for an electronic version as they would be for a paper one. The real question continues to be why companies that sell services to doctors for record duplication are driving the discussion at all, or why the Board of Medicine wants to make it harder for patients to review the care they have received. Public policy should center on patients having access to records about their own care, not about the profitmaking potential of a tangential industry.