Here are the SC Statutes relating to your query. The simple answer is that the physician MAY NOT withhold copies of your records because of an unpaid "medical bill". However, the physician may charge for the copying and provision of the medical records and may require that thiese charges be paid before he release the records to the patient. This charge does not apply and MAY NOT be charged when the records are being requested for the purpose of providing them to a health insurance carrier in order to process a claim. This charge also does not apply if the patient is asking that the records be sent to another physician for the purposes of treatment. In this circumstance, the physician is required to copy the records and send them directly to the other physician.
SECTION 44-115-70. Medical records may not be withheld because of an unpaid bill for medical services.
SECTION 44-115-30. A patient or his legal representative has a right to receive a copy of his medical record, or have the record transferred to another physician, upon request, when accompanied by a written authorization from the patient or his representative to release the record.
SECTION 44-115-80. Copying Fees. A physician, or other owner of medical records as provided for in Section 44-115-130, may charge a fee for the search and duplication of a medical record, but the fee may not exceed sixty-five cents per page for the first thirty pages and fifty cents per page for all other pages, and a clerical fee for searching and handling not to exceed fifteen dollars per request plus actual postage and applicable sales tax. A physician, health care provider, or other owner of medical records must provide a patient's medical records at no charge when the patient is referred by the physician, health care provider, or an employee, agent, or contractor of the owner of the record to another physician or health care provider for continuation of treatment for a specific condition or conditions. The physician may charge a patient or the patient's representative no more than the actual cost of reproduction of an X-ray. Actual cost means the cost of materials and supplies used to duplicate the X-ray and the labor and overhead costs associated with the duplication.
SECTION 44-115-90. When a request for medical information involves more than making copies of existing documents, a physician may charge reasonable fees, exclusive of those fees charged for copying the medical record, for providing this service.
SECTION 44-115-100. The provisions of Sections 44-115-80 and 44-115-90 do not apply to requests for medical information necessary to process a health insurance claim made by a patient or on behalf of the patient by a health insurance carrier or health insurance administrator for services rendered by the physician from whom the information is requested.
SECTION 44-115-110. Payment for all services related to medical record requests is a just debt, due and payable at the time service is rendered. A physician may require payment in advance for a copy of the record.
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