Posted by Sue on Feb 20, 2013
In my last post in the series, “What the heck you do with all that paper?” I reviewed the keep vs. shred guidelines for financial papers. I heard from a couple of you about special circumstances where my advice wasn’t 100% accurate; self employment being one. So, my caveat: if you have special situations, please consult your accountant.
This week we’re tackling which medical records you need to keep. Every visit to the doctor, pharmacy transaction and insurance payment generates paper. Most of these papers end up either in the trash (often unopened) or in the nearly-toppling-over-figure-out-or-file-pile. So, here’s the plan:
There are four categories of medical information you need to pay attention to:
- Prescription information: Include drug name and dosage, refill dates, number of refills remaining and one copy of the drug information fact sheet the pharmacy gives you, which is good for identifying drug interactions and side effects.
- General health: Don’t go overboard, because up to date information about almost anything is available on the internet or from your practitioner. Keep only information that you know you’ll want to refer to.
- Specific medical condition information for each family member, with separate sub-files for each condition or each family member.
- Health insurance information: Include payments and authorizations, services covered by your insurance company and doctors that participate in your health plan.
Make four file folders labeled with the four categories listed above. All of your health information should fit into one of these file folders. You may also decide to include manila folders within each of the four folders, on for each family member.
Here are some general guidelines to determine how long to keep these records:
- If you take the itemized deduction on your taxes, keep records of insurance payments with tax records for 7 years; otherwise, discard them after 1 year.
- Insurance policies: keep only the most recent update of current policies.
- Immunization records, operations, doctor, lab and hospital reports: permanent.
Next time: Handling your VIP’s: What to do with your Very Important Papers.