The public comments demonstrate that inspection and copying of individually identifiable health information is wide-spread today. Individuals routinely request copies of such information, in whole or in part, for purposes that include providing health information to another health care provider or as part of legal proceedings. The amount of inspection and copying of individually identifiable health information that occurs for these purposes is not expected to change as a result of the final regulation.
The final regulation establishes the right of individuals to inspect and copy protected health information about them. Although this is an important right, the Department does not expect it to result in dramatic increases in requests from individuals. We assume that most health care providers currently have procedures for allowing patients to inspect and copy this information. The economic impact on small businesses of requiring covered entities to provide individuals with access to protected health information should be relatively small. Moreover, entities can recoup the costs of copying such information by charging reasonable cost-based fees.