How Long Should I Keep Explanations of Benefits from Medicare and Health Insurance Companies? – NAPO-GPC
As an organizer of medical and financial records for seniors and others affected by age, illness, and disability, I get this question many times. a person with multiple medical conditions can quickly acquire boxes of paperwork from medicare, doctor’s offices, and health insurance companies.
It is helpful to start with what medical EOBs prove:
- services provided by the physician, hospital, or other health care entity.
- the amount the doctor, hospital, or other health care provider has billed for those services.
- the amount paid by the health insurance company and/or medicare.
- the amount for which you, the patient or insurance subscriber, are responsible.
- create (or re-create) a health record for yourself or someone in your care.
- document billing errors, or even fraud.
- make sure you are receiving all the insurance benefits to which you are entitled.
- show that you met your annual deductible, if your health insurance policy has one.
- showing what you paid if you take the medical expense deduction on your annual irs 1040 form.
then medical eobs can be useful for:
Obviously, it’s worth keeping medical eobs for a period of time. what to do with it all and how long to keep these records will vary depending on your personal situation. here are two sets of guidelines for eob medical hold periods and best practices: one for people in normal health and one for people with chronic, debilitating, or terminal health conditions:
1. keep medical eobs on file for one year. As bills and EOBs for a medical service come in, combine related items and address any discrepancies you spot. examples might include double billing or your health insurance company overlooking the fact that you met your deductible.
2. If, at the end of the year, you find that you’ve paid enough in medical bills to qualify for the medical tax deduction, submit the medical EOBs with your tax paperwork and keep them for seven years.
3. If you don’t qualify for the medical tax deduction, and you and all providers have paid the medical bills in full, and you’re no longer treating the condition, you can safely shred last year’s crop of medical EOBs while you’re finishing up your taxes. .
4. if there are still some outstanding bills or the patient is still receiving treatment, save the related eob for another year and repeat the process.
serious health condition
1. keep an updated file on hand for this year’s medical eobs. As bills and EOBs for a medical service come in, combine related items and address any discrepancies you see.
2. At the end of the year, store all of these records in date order, keeping the items you’ve paired together in a less prominent place. you can use a file cabinet in another room or a cardboard box in a dry, mold-free storage area. If you claimed the medical tax deduction, include a note on your tax records that cross-references these health records.
3. keep these medical records according to this schedule:
a. for five years after the serious health condition is gone.
b. for seven years if you have claimed the medical deduction.
c. indefinitely, if the patient has a chronic disease.
d. until the executor informs you that the estate is fully settled, if the patient is deceased.
In both of the above situations, you can keep medical records on paper or scanned into a computer depending on your preferences. if you keep paper files, keep them out of areas where they can get wet, for example, the basement floor. if you choose the electronic route, be sure to reliably back up your data.
one final note: don’t panic if you need one or more medical eob’s or haven’t maintained them according to the above guidelines. All health insurers, including Medicare, can replace an EOB because they store them electronically.