Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has called upon the province to regulate the amount doctors and other health care providers can charge to provide patients with copies of their health records.
Cavoukian writes that “access to one’s own records of personal information is a cornerstone of fair information practices and privacy legislation. In the context of health care, the right of access enables individuals to determine what shall or shall not be done with their own bodies, to exercise control over the collection, use or disclosure of their own personal health information, and to require the correction or amendment of that information.”
While the McGuinty government did draft a regulation around such fees in 2006, it was never passed.
A patient complained to the Commission about a $125 fee charged by her physician for access to 34 pages of her records. They found $125 to exceed “reasonable cost recovery” and ordered the physician to reduce the fee to $33.50. The Commission arrived at the fee by suggesting $30 be charged for the first 20 pages to cover time for the doctor to review the information, and 25 cents per page be charged beyond that.
Health Minister Deb Matthews said she didn’t believe the problem to be widespread, but said she would talk to the Ontario Medical Association about it.
Creeping charges related to access to health care is becoming a growing issue.
A few years ago Vector conducted a poll in which the majority agreed that the high cost of parking at hospitals constituted a health care user fee.
If you want to find the most expensive place to park in any town or city, it’s usually the hospital. We have seen ridiculous attempts by hospitals to protect that revenue such as erecting fences to prevent people from walking from nearby free parking lots. Municipalities have been forced to limit parking in nearby neighborhoods as patients and their families try and avoid the high fees.
The high parking fees have also been used as an argument by some hospitals for divesting services elsewhere in the community.