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How to Transfer Medical Records When You Move

October 20th, 2017 - 10:59 AM

Do I need to transfer my medical records?

Aside from packing up boxes and scheduling the moving company, there are several other details to handle when you’re moving state to state. You also have to do things like cancel and set up (or transfer) utilities, transfer your license and registration, select schools and/or child care, and do USPS change of address. Another important task that you don’t want to forget is transferring medical and dental records to any new providers.    

When you begin seeing a new medical provider they’ll normally want to know your medical history, present and past illnesses or conditions and treatments and medications. Even if you’re in good health, it’s helpful for a new provider to review the history of your vitals, vaccines and any test results.

And, because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you have the right to take your records with you when you move or change providers. Learn more about HIPPA regulations for transferring your medical information.  

Transferring medical records when you move involves filling out a request form at your doctor's office.

Your right to access health information

The right to access your health information is regulated by HIPAA, which was enacted in 1996. The HIPPA Privacy Rule gives individuals the right to access (see and get copies of) medical records, whether stored on paper or electronically. Your medical records can include test results, x-rays, vaccine records, treatment plans and other health information from doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, laboratories and your health insurer. You have the option to send this information to the parties of your choice, including a new doctor. Keep in mind that the records, while they contain private information about you, technically belong to the doctor. You don’t have the right to the originals — just copies. Because of HIPAA, you can’t be refused access to your file, even if you owe money for treatment. It’s also important to note that only you or your personal representative can access your records.

How to transfer medical records

The process of obtaining your medical records is fairly simple. Check the detailed steps below:

Decide who is getting copies

You can obtain your own copies, or you can have them sent to another provider. If sending records to a third party, have their contact information ready.

Decide what parts of your medical record you want

You can have your entire file (which could be lengthy) or just a summary copied. If you’re paying for paper copies, there may be a per sheet cost to consider.

Submit a request for your record

Talk to your doctor (or dentist, eye doctor, hospital or another provider) and tell them you’d like a copy of your health information. Most doctors require a written request, especially for records transfers to other offices. Find out the process for your provider in their privacy policy.

Pay a fee

Upon making the request, you may be asked to pay a fee. HIPAA allows for providers to charge a “reasonable, cost-based fee,” meaning they can’t charge you for retrieval time but can charge for copies or a method of saving the records (like a thumb drive). If your provider keeps electronic health records, you may be able to access your information online for free and make your own copies.

Wait for your records

The amount of time and details of the regulations vary by state, but you should typically expect to have your copies within 30 days, so it’s wise to start the process at least one month before moving.

Keep them secure

Once you get a copy of your medical record (or if it’s sent to a third party), your provider is no longer responsible for the security of that information. Keep electronic data on a password-protected device or store paperwork in a safe place, and only give copies of your health information to those you trust.

How to get copies of your records after you move

If you’ve already moved, you can still obtain a copy of your records. If you’re unable to make the request in person, you can submit it via email or mail, and pay the fee over the phone or online. Contact your doctor for their procedures. You can also choose a new provider and do a third-party request for your medical records. This is where you submit in writing that your new doctor can have access to your medical record — and the old records will be sent to the new doctor.

Related Resources

Moving Checklist

How to complete a postal change of address

How to change voter registration when you’re moving out of state

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