Dear client: You have been ripped off. No, not by me, silly! By your doctor, by the hospital, by your physical therapist, and by anyone else who has treated you for your injuries. Let me explain.
Your medical providers have been charging me 75 cents a page for your medical records. This money initially comes out of my pocket, but eventually comes out of yours because I charge it as an expense on your case. The charge reduces your “net” settlement or recovery.
Seventy-five cents a page may not sound like a lot. But it’s a nickle-and-dime ripoff that can add up to a lot of money if we are ordering hundreds or even thousands of pages of medical records.
Why do the medical providers charge 75 cents a page? Because they think they can. They rely on a New York Statute, Public Health Law section 18, which says medical providers can assess “a reasonable charge” for copies so long as it does “not exceed the cost” of copying . . . and does not “exceed seventy-five cents per page.”
For many years, 75 cents a page was “reasonable”. In the old days, doctors and hospitals had to pay a secretary to physically feed the originals into a Xerox machine. At 75 cents a page, they were lucky to break even.
Enter a technological revolution: electronically stored medical records. Now that same secretary just hits a few buttons on her computer to either print out or electronically transmit the medical records to the lawyer who requested them.
So the actual copying costs have gone down to about twenty-five cents page. But Medical providers still charge 75 cents! So they are making a tidy profit — about 50 cents a page — at your expense. And this violates Public Health Law 18 because it is not “a reasonable charge” since it “exceeds the cost” of making the copies.
What have lawyers like me done about that? Well, we have sued (of course). Specifically, we banned together in a class action on behalf of clients like you against a bunch of medical providers. The total ripoff is alleged to amount to many millions of dollars when you add up all the overcharging since 2008 (the statute of limitations was expired for any claims before then).
I’m predicting a plaintiff victory. And even if plaintiffs lose the case, Albany will likely pass legislation to fix the problem.
You have a right to your medical records. No one should be bilking you for them. It should be a public service.
Once plaintiffs win — or Albany acts — my cost of representing you will go down, and your “bottom line” settlement will go up. And that’s good news for you.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.