How to Get Your Medical Records Without Paying an Arm and a Leg

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Artwork: Elizabeth D’Angelo

It’s great to get your medical records! And it’s expensive to get your medical records! Here are some ideas.

πŸ’› Different states have different state medical record payment rates.

πŸ’› Some states do not allow charging for medical records for disability cases. Please check the link above for your state. When you request your records, make sure to tell them this is for a disability claim. If they don’t know the regs, you may need to be a little persistent.

πŸ’› If you are low income, you may be able to explain your situation and ask if there is any way to have the fee waived or lowered. They may not do it, but it can’t hurt to ask. If you feel too shy to ask in person, you can try writing a letter to your doctor and/or to the person who manages records requests – trying both might increase your chances of success.

πŸ’› The records you see online are usually not your full records. The visit summaries you are given in the office are not your full records. Bottom line: if you are getting your records for free, that is not a good thing. It probably means your not reading your full records and you are not seeing your treatment notes. Here’sΒ How Cherry Blossom Found Secret Medical Records

πŸ’› If you are working with a lawyer, the lawyer may pay the records fee upfront and then (likely) you will have to pay the lawyer back later. This is in addition to lawyer’s fees. Check your contract with your lawyer. Please don’t just leave everything to your lawyer. Some people find that lawyers do not really collect all their records. If possible, it’s a good idea to double check everything yourself: Β How to Collect Your Records Through Your Lawyer

πŸ’› If Social Security collects your records, there will be no charge to you. If you are appealing, you can request your case file on CD. You are unlikely to get all your records this way, but you will get some of them. Here’sΒ How to Collect Your Records through Social Security

πŸ’› If at all possible, it is always best to try to collect all your records yourself. Here’sΒ How to Collect Your Records Your Own Damn Self

πŸ’› Patient’s guide to HIPAA gives an overview of what type of charges can and can’t be made and how to file a complaint if you think you are being improperly charged.

πŸ’› Electronic records are sometimes cheaper than print copies. You can inquire if you can receive your records in an electronic form. Once again, do not use the online portals. These will not contain full treatment notes.

πŸ’› In some states, it is cheaper to get records if your representative requests them. This brings up the question: Why not just sign a form to have someone be your representative and then have them request the records? Give it a whirl and let us know what happens! There are various different forms online for appointing a personal medical representative, including ones from Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, or your health care provider may have their own form.


Updated Oct 2017. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.

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