- Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Financial and Insurance Issues
- Insurance is complicated
- Private health plan coverage for children
- How to manage your child’s health insurance
- Getting answers to insurance-related questions
- Keeping records of your child’s insurance and medical costs
- Handling a health insurance claim denial
- Keeping employer-sponsored health insurance coverage when you leave your job
- What if my child’s medical care is covered by more than one insurance company?
- Government-funded health plans
- Who regulates insurance plans?
- Options for uninsured children
- State coverage and health insurance options for the hard to insure
- What sources are available to help with treatment costs if my child doesn’t have insurance and there’s no public assistance available?
- Financial issues for families: Getting help with living expenses
- To learn more
Keeping records of your child’s insurance and medical costs
It can be hard to keep track of the bills, letters, claim forms, and other papers that start flowing into your home after a child is diagnosed with cancer. But keeping careful records of medical bills, insurance claims, and payments helps families better manage their money and lower their stress levels. Some families already have a system for tracking their finances and records and only need to expand it and create new files. Others may have to come up with a plan to handle all of the paperwork.
Record-keeping is also important for those who wish to take advantage of the deductions available in filing itemized tax returns. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has information and free publications about tax exemptions for cancer treatment expenses (see “To learn more”). The rules change from time to time, so the IRS is the best source of current information.
Records to keep
- Medical bills from all health care providers – write the date you got the bill on each one
- Claims filed, including the date of service, the doctor, and date filed
- Reimbursements (payments from insurance companies) received and explanations of benefits forms (EOBs)
- 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’s response, and other costs related to treatment
- Meals and lodging expenses
- Travel to and from doctor’s appointments and treatments or the hospital (including gas, mileage, and parking for a personal car; and taxi, bus, medical transportation, or ambulance fees)
- Admissions, clinic visits, lab work, diagnostic tests, procedures, and treatment dates
- Drugs given and prescriptions filled
Tips for record-keeping
- Decide who will be the family record-keeper or how the task will be shared.
- Get the help of a relative or friend, if needed. This may be especially important for parents who are single or live alone.
- Set up a file system using a file cabinet, drawer, box, binders, or loose-leaf notebooks.
- Review bills soon after getting them and note any questions about charges.
- Check all bills and explanations of benefits (EOBs) paid to be sure they are correct.
- Pay bills by check if possible. This way you have a record of payment.
- Save and file all bills, payment receipts, and explanations of benefits (EOBs). Talk to your bank or credit union about how to get copies of canceled checks when you need them.
- Keep a daily log of events and expenses; a calendar with space for writing is useful.
- Keep a list of cancer care team members and all other contacts with their phone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses.
- Find out what’s tax deductible and be sure to keep the originals of those records. (See the “To learn more” section for the IRS phone number.)
When you have problems paying a medical bill
Many families go through times when they find it hard to pay their bills on time. Most hospitals and agencies are willing to discuss and work with you to resolve these problems. To help keep a good credit rating, pay attention to notices that say the bill will soon be turned over to a collection agency. You want to avoid this if at all possible.
When a medical bill comes that can’t be paid right away, families can:
- Explain the problem to the hospital or clinic financial counselor or the doctor’s office secretary.
- Work out a payment delay or an extended payment plan.
- Talk with the team social worker about sources of short-term help.
- Think about asking relatives or friends to help out with money on a short-term basis.
Last Medical Review: 10/07/2013
Last Revised: 10/07/2013