My agency received a bill for medical records. What should we do if we do not have funding available to pay the bill?
Most states have laws that regulate what health care providers can charge individuals for copies of their medical records. However, these rules do not necessarily apply to providers requesting records. In addition, some states provide an exception for records needed to apply for a disability benefits program and stipulate that they be provided at no-cost. For more information on state statutes and regulations regarding the collection of fees for medical records, click here.
If your state does not require a fee-waiver, we recommend contacting the director of the medical records department and advocating for or negotiating one. Explain that the individual is homeless and that you, as a mutual provider, are unable to pay for the records. Let the director know that the records will be used for a disability application and that, upon approval, the individual will likely be eligible for Medicaid and/or Medicare benefits that will pay for uncompensated care that the provider has given as well as future care that is provided. Therefore, it is in the provider’s best interest for the individual’s application to be well supported and documented as an approval may lead to retroactive and future reimbursements.
In addition, offer to the director of the medical records department that you would be happy to write a letter to the administrator of his/her agency regarding how helpful the director has been as well as the potential financial recoupment that such collaboration will mean to the provider.
If they are unwilling to waive the fees, try contacting United Way or other community action agencies that may be able to pay all or part of the bill.