Law caps price for medical records

Gloria Aslanidis of West Ashley flips through a digital copy of medical records for her father, Charlie Aslanidis, 78, that she received last year from the Medical University Hospital. The hospital charged her $3,801.30 for the CD.

A new state law capping the amount hospitals and doctors can charge patients for digital and paper copies of their medical records was signed by Gov. Nikki Haley last week. S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell said he felt compelled to pre-file the bill in December after he learned that Medical University Hospital charged West Ashley resident Gloria Aslanidis $3,800 for a CD copy of her father's medical records.

The hospital calculated her fee using the per-page rates established by a 1992 state law, which was written at a time when processing medical records requests was a paper intensive process.

"It allowed hospitals to take advantage of you," Aslanidis said.

The new law prohibits health care providers from charging more than $150 for copies of a medical record in an electronic format, regardless of the number of pages in the record or the number of times the patient was admitted to the facility.

The maximum amount they can charge for a paper copy is $200 - per hospital admission.

"To be quite honest, I'm ecstatic," Aslanidis said. "It restored my faith in the system."

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In an interview in December, Harrell, R-Charleston, said he thought it was "absurd" that hospitals would charge the same per page rates for a digital copy as they would for an electronic copy of a medical record.

"The frustration is, you really shouldn't even have to update the law," he said. "The providers should be exercising some discretion and not charging patients that much money."