Expanding Patients' Property Rights In Their Medical Records

Laurence C. Baker, Kate Bundorf, Daniel Kessler

NBER Working Paper No. 20565
Issued in October 2014
NBER Program(s):Health Care, Health Economics, Law and Economics

Although doctors and hospitals own their patients' medical records, state and federal laws require that they provide patients with a copy at "reasonable cost." We examine the effects of state laws that cap the fees that doctors and hospitals are allowed to charge patients for a copy of their records. We test whether these laws affected patients' propensity to switch doctors and the prices of new- and existing-patient visits. We also examine the effect of laws on hospitals' adoption of electronic medical record (EMR) systems. We find that patients from states adopting caps on copy fees were significantly more likely to switch doctors, and that hospitals in states adopting caps were significantly more likely to install an EMR. We also find that laws did not have a systematic, significant effect on prices.

download in pdf format
   (208 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20565

Published: Laurence C. Baker & M. Kate Bundorf & Daniel P. Kessler, 2015. "Expanding Patients' Property Rights in Their Medical Records," American Journal of Health Economics, vol 1(1), pages 82-100.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Ottoni-Wilhelm, Vesterlund, and Xie w20497 Why Do People Give? Testing Pure and Impure Altruism
Baker, Bundorf, and Kessler w21513 Does Health Plan Generosity Enhance Hospital Market Power?
McCullough, Parente, and Town w18684 Health Information Technology and Patient Outcomes: The Role of Organizational and Informational Complementarities
Dranove, Garthwaite, Li, and Ody w20553 Investment Subsidies and the Adoption of Electronic Medical Records in Hospitals
Bailey and Goodman-Bacon w20653 The War on Poverty's Experiment in Public Medicine: Community Health Centers and the Mortality of Older Americans
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us