4 x 4 of Organizing Medical Bills

Medical bills can be a source of stress for many cancer patients
Stack of bills

Cancer patients spend billions of dollars on health care annually and are often left facing financial struggles after battling this disease. Mired in the mud of medical bills, many patients get stuck spinning their wheels going nowhere. If that is you, use this 4x4 to get out of it. It will motivate and enable you to organize and maintain a system that relieves stress.

FOUR benefits of organizing your medical bills

Stress reduction. Opening and sorting medical bills and insurance correspondence is essential to easing stress levels and reducing the sense of being overwhelmed. The goal is to create a workable process to respond to important items.

Smarter budgeting. When you know what to pay, you can smartly budget for these costs and minimize surprises. Your budget will help you understand your ability to pay and whether you need financial aid. You may also use this budget information to estimate your future health care costs. That will be especially helpful if you use a flexible spending or health savings account to manage health care costs.

Searching made easy. Creating a working filing system will make it easy for you or a caregiver to keep track of the status of each bill. As new statements arrive, you will be able to easily verify if it is a duplicate bill or one that you already paid.

Simplifying tax credits: The IRS allows all taxpayers to deduct the total qualified unreimbursed medical care expenses that exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income. This can include medical expenses not covered by insurance, mileage to and from appointments, prescription drugs, and meals during lengthy visits. Check with your tax advisor for additional details.

FOUR steps to get the M.O.S.T. out of organizing your medical bills

Match. Separate your bills by provider and date of service. Match them up to the corresponding explanation of benefits. Discard duplicates.

Once-over. Look over the bills to check for accuracy. If you do not understand something or see a mistake, call the insurance company first. They may direct you back to the provider for more information.

System. Create your own system to organize your documents. Use a large binder, file cabinet, accordion folder or scan them electronically. File medical bills in different categories such as pending, due and paid.

Track. Keep track of all payments that you make. Use a sheet of paper or electronic spreadsheet for easy review.

Remember that organizing is a journey, not a destination. Like exercise, organizing medical bills and information needs to be done often to yield positive results. You may have a friend or family member help if you feel overwhelmed and do not know where to start. It does not need to be perfect; it just needs to work for you.

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