Medical records can be accessed by either the patient or his appointed representative by contacting his physician or the hospital where services were rendered, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While these agencies may charge reasonable fees for mailing the records or packaging them to be sent, they cannot deny patients access due to the inability to pay for the service.
Getting copies of medical forms is only possible if the patient contacts the doctor, clinic, hospital or other facility where the medical treatment took place. Records are not accessible in copy form from an insurance carrier or third-party service provider, such as a lab or medical provider used for a second opinion. The person in charge of records has the ability to provide copies to the patient in person or by mail at the original treatment facility. A provider is able to charge for copying and mailing the records, but the costs must be reasonable, according to the HHS. A fee can't be charged for locating the records, as this is against federal law.
For patients unable to pay for the records, requesting them in a digital format or in a paper copy should not be restricted. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, patients have the right to review, inspect and receive copies of their medical records, according to Health IT.