Kaiser, Virginia Mason, more say they are not partaking in the MyChart charge trend

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, MultiCare and Kaiser Permanente said that they do not have any plans to charge patients for MyChart messages with physicians, The News Tribune reported Dec. 5. 

Patient portal services such as MyChart allow patients to access medical records, test results, schedule appointments and send messages online to physicians and staff with medical questions between in-person visits. These features used to be free, but a number of health systems are now charging up to $50 for certain messages. 

Cleveland Clinic, Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem, Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, San Francisco-based UCSF Health, and Portland-based Oregon Health & Science University are among the hospitals and health systems that have recently begun charging for patient portal messages. 

But, the announcements have drawn a mixed bag of responses, with some patients and consumer groups criticizing the action, while providers have argued that it's no different from lawyers charging clients for answering emails.

But these three health systems said they are not partaking in the movement. 

According to the report, Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente said it does not plan on charging patients for MyChart. 

"There is no cost for Kaiser Permanente members to access their electronic health record or to message the physicians and clinicians on their care team, nor any plan to change that for our members at this time," Linnae Riesen, media representative for Kaiser, told The News Tribune. 

Seattle, Wash.-based Virgina Mason's Division Director of Communications Susan Callahan also said that there are no plans "for a fee-based system at this time." Tacoma, Wash.-based MultiCare also said it has "no plans to implement a fee-based system for MyChart use" to message its physicians.

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