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Can a lab make patients pay to access their test results (e.g. blood test results)? The results are sent to the physicians, but the patients need to pay to access the results from the lab, even though the patients have already paid to perform the test.


I am mostly interested in the following locations:

  • California, United States
  • Massachusetts, United States
  • Paris, France
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Is there any reason to believe such a contract would be illegal? E.g., why wouldn't a lab be allowed to offer its services under terms like, "We'll do this test for $x, but if you want a copy of results that will be an additional $y," It seems obnoxious, but I don't see how it infringes any rights or laws. – feetwet Aug 23 '15 at 21:54
  • @feetwet Not sure, it sounds intuitive to me that if one pays for a blood test when could access the results…but laws and intuitions / common sense are different things indeed. Perhaps looking on the side of consumer rights (e.g. not having access to the result could be seen as an abusive clause), patient rights (like Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) or some right to access one's personal information. – Franck Dernoncourt Aug 23 '15 at 22:02
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    @feetwet The reason would be that patients are the ultimate deciders of their health care and having information accessible to their doctors but not to them would compromise that. How could any provider claim to have informed consent if they intentionally placed an obstacle to their patient getting access to their own health records? – David Schwartz Jul 17 '16 at 8:52
  • @DavidSchwartz: "Patients are the ultimate deciders of their health care?" That statement is far from evident to me in any state where government mandates, regulates, licenses, and otherwise controls virtually every aspect of the provision of health services. – feetwet Jul 17 '16 at 15:56
  • @feetwet The provision, sure. But the deciders of what procedures or tests are or aren't done still rests with the patient, until and unless a court says otherwise in some specific instance. (Assuming they are an adult.) – David Schwartz Jul 17 '16 at 21:38
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California:

Results from lab tests ordered by a health care professional must be provided by the health care professional to the patient if the patient requests them. This is codified in California Health and Safety Code 123148. That section states:

(i) A patient may not be required to pay a cost, or be charged a fee, for electing to receive his or her laboratory results in a manner other than by Internet posting or other electronic form.

Massachusetts:

Massachusetts' law allows for a charge of $15 for each request of records plus a per page charge of $0.50 for each of the first 100 pages and $0.25 for each page in excess of 100 pages. There are some exceptions to the charges for certain conditions in Massachusetts law.

United States:

If your health care provider transmits health records electronically then they are covered by the Privacy Act. If they are covered by the Privacy Act then they cannot deny you a copy of your records however:

...a provider may charge for the reasonable costs for copying and mailing the records.

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Current US law says no. You can always request a copy of your medical records for no more than the cost of reproduction. We note that electronic distribution costs nothing these days and is already required to exist due to other laws.

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