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Tracking Medical Expenses

Stack of colorful 3 inch three ring binders

Undergoing treatment for any chronic illness generates a mountain of paperwork.  Each doctor's visit, hospital stay and prescription adds to the paperwork that you must submit to your insurance company or the IRS (if you are deducting the amount of your medical expenses that are greater than 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income).  Keeping track of all this documentation can feel overwhelming.  With a little organization and some disciplined habits, you can stay on top of things easily.   

Why Track?

Having invoices, receipts and other documents organized and easy to find is critical if you want to be able to dispute rejected legitimate insurance claims.  Insurance companies will ask for copies of just about everything so its best to be prepared.  You will also need good records to maximize a Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) or to itemize medical expenses on your federal tax return.

Keeping it Together

The first rule of organizing is to take immediate action.  Don't wait until you have a stack of receipts in your purse, wallet or bedside table.  I carry a Moleskine miniature accordion file in my handbag (and have one in the console of each car) and file all receipts, parking ticket stubs, prescriptions, etc as I collect them on the day.  I then come home and transfer them to a large three ring binder with the same tab system.  I tried traditional manila file folders, but they allow small receipts to fall out and get lost.  A binder with plastic sheet protectors and zipper pouches works best for me, but you can also use a large, sturdy accordion file instead.

There are several software packages, like Quicken Medical, that will allow you to track medical expenses on your computer, but my condition makes computer work difficult so I do things the old fashion way.   My binder file has the following sections:

Medical bills

All receipts for doctor office co-pays and other fees to medical professionals go here.  Most doctor's bills include the physician's name and address, date of appointment, patient's name, reason for visit and fee.  If any of this information is missing, write it and the date you paid the fee on the bill before filing.  When the Explanation of Medical Benefits comes from the Insurance company, I staple it to the appropriate bill and keep them in the same sleeve.

Hospital Stays

Keep any and all documentation you receive concerning hospital stays in this section.

Prescriptions

Staple register receipts to receipts from pharmacy bags and file as soon as you bring prescriptions home.

Medical Insurance

File online payment receipts or copies of checks for any premiums paid.  It's handy to keep pay stubs documenting medical coverage deductions here, too.

Transportation

Keep and file all receipts for parking fees, toll roads, etc that you encounter while driving to doctor's offices and hospitals.  Be sure to note your destination on each receipt as soon as you get there.  If you took public transportation, get receipts and indicate destination and reason on each one. 

Gas expenses can be claimed either out of pocket or you can take the standard mileage rate.  At time of writing, the 2009 mileage rate for medical travel was $0.24 per mile.

Custom Tabs

Each person is different and will have different expenses to account for.  Create as many custom tabs as necessary for medical expenses incurred.

Disclaimer:  The information contained within this site is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. The information presented is based on my own personal experience with my own unique set of medical conditions. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. What works for me could be catastrophic for you. Consult your medical team for treatment options suitable for you.
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