Action Accuses Walgreens of Overcharging for Medical Records

Walgreens-Overcharging-for-Medical-RecordsWalgreens Company has been accused of overcharging consumers more than what is legally allowed for making copies of their medical records.

Based in Deerfield, Illinois, Walgreens is the largest drug retailer in the United States, operating 9,000 stores nationwide and in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam, as of the first-quarter of 2014. Now, at least one civil action has been brought accusing the retailer of charging consumers too much for copying medical records and of Walgreens being in violation of state laws.

The Illinois man bringing the action alleges he was charged a flat $55 fee to copy his medical records. In this case, state law indicates that firms such as Walgreens must comply with established fees for this service, which may not exceed $24.81 in handling charges, $0.93 per page for the first 25 pages, $0.62 per page for the next 25 pages, and $0.31 for any more than 50 pages. Copying medical records for authorized parties, such as patients, attorneys, and medical providers, may be time-consuming and costly. Because of this, state medical record copy fee statutes are in place to offset some of these expenses.

Allegations also accuse Walgreens of perpetrating the “common scheme of fraud” when it allegedly overcharged the consumer, of failing to advise that it intentionally overcharged consumers for copies of medical records, and that it attempted to conceal the fraud by presenting the fees for this service in what was described as a vague and unclear manner. Other allegations include that Walgreens violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The action also alleges common law fraud and unjust enrichment against Walgreens.

Noncompliance with state statute has led to a number of class action lawsuits and the payment of significant financial damages in cases that involve allegations of overcharges. Other similar cases have been brought against firms accused of charging consumers excessive and redundant amounts for copying medical records. Actions have also included allegations that consumers were overcharged for electronic copies at microfilm or microfiche rates, and not the paper rate.

In other news, Walgreens was previously accused of overcharging customers for general merchandise. For example, according to CBS Boston, Missouri Attorney General (AG) Chris Koster discovered that Walgreens often charged more than its advertised prices. “Our findings were disturbing. Investigators from the AG’s office documented overcharges and deceptive prices at nearly every store they visited,” said Koster.

CBS Boston’s I-Team investigation revealed similar findings. For example, clearance items that were marked down on displays were charged at full prices at checkout. The team found outdated sales tags still on merchandise despite that the deals had expired; at checkout, consumers were charged the higher price. AG Koster also found that Walgreens reward cards did not calculate reduced prices and reward points accurately. “This level of consumer deception is inexcusable from a corporation as sophisticated as Walgreen’s,” said AG Koster. According to CBS Boston’s investigation, the Massachusetts AG received 11 complaints in 2.5 years from Walgreens customers who say they were overcharged by the retailer.

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