The law varies from state to state, but in most, the information in your record belongs to you and you have a right to it, but the actual physical record belongs to the provider. The reason they charge is that it costs them in supplies and staff salaries to make the copies and get them to you. You record may not take much time, but when 100 people want their records....
I periodically show up at my doctor's office with a signed letter asking for copies of specific records. I try to keep my important stuff on file here on home, in case I move or need to change doctors. When I changed GI's, I took my records to the first visit with me, they made a copy for their records, and we were ready go.
Because I ask for just the important stuff (lab results, surgery notes, procedure notes) every once in a while, it usually isn't a lot of paper and they don't charge me. My ortho and my GI always give me copies of labs, studies and prodecures without my even asking.
Moderate to severe left-sided UC diagnosed 2001.
Current meds are Colazal, Azathioprine and Remicade. Completely off steroids for more than a year now! In remission since April, 2006. Remicade has been my wonder drug.
Now tapering Azathioprine, please pray for me.