By Melissa D. Carter, Attorney at Law
RCW 70.02.010(37) allows health care providers to charge fees for searching and duplicating health care records. The law requires a biannual adjustment on those rates, and the Department of Health recently adopted new rates that become effective on September 7, 2017.
WAC 246-08-400 states that the fees a provider may now charge cannot exceed the fees listed below:
(1) Copying charge per page:
a. No more than one dollar and seventeen cents ($1.17) per page for the first thirty pages;
b.No more than eight-eight ($.88) cents per page for all other pages.
(2) Additional charges:
a. The provider can charge a twenty-six ($26.00) dollar clerical fee for searching and handling records;
b. If the provider personally edits confidential information from the record, as required by statute, the provider can charge the usual fee for a basic office visit.
These new rates do not overrule or bypass the HITECH law, which prohibits a health care provider from charging the per page fee in Washington for paper copies if the electronic format is available. At Adler Giersch PS, our offices have transitioned into an electronic record system and much prefer receiving records in an electronic format. It saves time for us and money for our clients. You are allowed to charge a “reasonable fee” for the cost of the electronic records that are placed on a CD, plus sales tax, postage, and the clerical fee of $25.00, under Washington Law. Please note that this $25.00 clerical fee relates to the handling of electronic records only, and is separate than the $26.00 clerical fee for searching and handling paper records.
If, however, the provider does not have an electronic records system, but is willing to produce a copy of the records electronically, then the provider IS ALLOWED under Washington law to charge the traditional way at the new rates noted above: a clerical fee, the per page fee for scanning the records to an electronic format, plus sales tax and postage, as follows:
- The flat fee of $26.00 for clerical searching and handling the record request;
- A charge of $1.17 for each of the first 30 pages of the record; and
- A charge of .88 cents for each page after the 30th page to the end of the patient file.
If you have any questions concerning the production or records, the new rates or how best to proceed with a request for records, please send us an email at email@example.com.
 The revised law also discusses HIPPA-covered entities and what they may or may not charge under federal HIPAA. The US Department of Health and Human Services offered guidance on what these allowable charges are here:https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/guidance/access/index.html#newlyreleasedfaqs
 RCW 70.02.010 (37); WAC 246-08-400.