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Organizing Your Medical Information

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Come up with a system for keeping your medical information organized. This includes your medical records, such as test results and treatment plans; any communications you get from your insurance plan; and any bills or financial statements you receive from your doctor or hospital. Good recordkeeping can be a major help if you run into any issues with health insurance coverage.

Use whatever system works for you. Some people like to keep paper copies of everything in a binder or accordion folder with separate tabs for treatment records and insurance records. Others prefer keeping their records on their computer, scanning paperwork as needed to create digital copies. You may wish to create a spreadsheet that lists the date of every appointment, test, treatment, prescription filled, etc.; the provider name and location; the amount you paid; the status of the insurance claim; and any additional amount for which you were billed. This allows you to quickly see the status of payments and coverage. If your hospital or doctor’s office offers an electronic health record that you can access, this might do some of the work for you. The same holds true if your health insurance plan offers an online portal for members. However, you still may wish to print out your records so you can refer to them easily in one place.

For health insurance purposes in particular, the American Cancer Society recommends that you keep copies of all of the following:

  • Medical bills from all health care providers
  • Receipts for any payments made
  • Claims filed, including the date of service, the doctor, and the date filed
  • Reimbursements (payments from insurance companies) received
  • Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) forms
  • Dates, names, and outcomes of calls, letters, or emails to insurers and others
  • Medical costs that were not reimbursed, those waiting for the insurance company, and other costs related to treatment
  • Meal and lodging expenses
  • Travel to and from appointments, treatments, or the hospital (including gas, mileage, and parking for a personal car; and taxi, bus, medical transportation, or ambulance)
  • Admissions, clinic visits, lab work, diagnostic tests, procedures, and treatments
  • Medications given and prescriptions filled

Annette Hargadon, MSN, RNC-OB, CBCN, nurse navigator/breast care coordinator at Riddle Hospital/Main Line Health, Media, PA says she gives all of her patients the American Cancer Society’s health records manager, which is essentially a paper portfolio where they can store their records. Not only can this be helpful for making sure you are getting services covered, but it also can help you keep track of any treatment-related costs that were not reimbursed. You may be able to claim these as deductions at tax time.

The bottom line? Create a system that works for you and keep it current — or ask a family member or loved one to handle this task for you. For more advice and practical tips, visit Managing Your Medical Records.

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