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Price Control: Patient Records


Archaic state statutes controlling the fee medical providers can demand for providing medical records may hurt more than it helps. Admittedly, these restrictions limit the financial burden the patient, but they also serve as an incentive to destroy records as soon as allowed.

My state encourages providers to maintain records for at least 10 years, but, due to the costs involved (which the statutory fees often fail to cover), this floor often becomes a ceiling. Many, if not most, providers eagerly destroy records at the 10 year mark to avoid costs associated with storage and access.

If patients maintained their own records, they could decide how long to keep them, even going back to their birth, but as long as governments require providers to maintain records, those governments should also offer encouragement, a carrot instead of a stick, to make those providers want to keep them for as long as possible, or maybe until the patient requests destruction.  

Removing price controls could achieve this goal. Better yet, offer cloud-based storage of records by the patient. Providers could include the cost of uploading in the charge for each service, or the patient could pay a subscription fee.