- Thinking about the costs of cancer treatment
- Private health plans
- Types of private health plans
- Other things to know about health insurance
- How to manage your health insurance
- Getting answers to insurance-related questions
- Keeping records of insurance and medical care costs
- When you have problems paying a medical bill
- Handling a claim denial
- Keeping employer-sponsored health insurance coverage when you leave your job
- COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act of 1986)
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
- The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
- The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990
- The Affordable Care Act
- Government-funded health plans
- Who regulates insurance plans?
- Health insurance options for the uninsured
- State coverage and health insurance options for the hard-to-insure
- Financial issues: Getting help with living expenses
- Getting money from life insurance policies
- Other sources of financial help
- Disability benefits
- To learn more
Keeping records of insurance and medical care costs
It can be hard to keep track of all the bills, letters, claim forms, and other papers that begin flowing into your home after a cancer diagnosis. But keeping careful records of medical bills, insurance claims, and payments helps families manage their money better 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 deductions for cancer treatment expenses (see the “To learn more” section). These rules change from time to time, so the IRS is the best source for current information.
Keep records of the following:
- 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 the date filed
- Reimbursements (payments from insurance companies) received and explanations of benefits (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, and other costs related to treatment
- Meal and lodging expenses
- Travel to and from doctor’s 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
- Drugs given and prescriptions filled
Here are some ideas to help you with record-keeping:
- Decide who in the family will be the 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 people who are single or who 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 plenty of writing space is useful.
- Keep a list of cancer care team members and all other contacts with their phone and fax numbers and email addresses.
- Find out what is tax deductible and be sure to keep the originals of those records. (See the “To learn more” section for the IRS phone number.)
Last Medical Review: 06/24/2013
Last Revised: 08/05/2013