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Blog: Minimizing Financial Clutter

If you're lucky,
a)      you actually have health insurance,
b)      your insurance pays for most of your healthcare expenses,
c)       your healthcare providers submit your health insurance claims for you,
d)      your insurance company processes your claims correctly and promptly, and
e)      you never even see the bills from your doctors, because of all of the above.
But this is real life, and most of us aren't quite so lucky.  Without an organizational system for our medical bills and explanation of benefit statements (EOBs) from our insurance company(ies), we can find ourselves in a confusing mess of paperwork and a potentially serious financial situation.
First, Know What You Have
Gather all of your health insurance information.  Discard any information for policies no longer in effect, with the exception of the Evidence of Coverage Statements you received when you switched insurance companies.  (Keep those letters as proof that you have had continuous health insurance coverage.)
Read the booklet that defines your benefits and required co-pays for medical services.  File your health insurance booklets and blank claim forms in your household filing system.
Manage Your Medical Bills and EOBs
If you are reasonably healthy and don't incur many medical bills, a simple system of file folders will suffice:
·         Primary health insurance provider's EOBs
·         Secondary health insurance provider's EOBs
·         Unpaid medical bills to be submitted (by you) to insurance
·         Copies of unpaid medical bills awaiting payment by health insurance
·         Completely paid  medical bills (by health insurance and/or by you)
File your bills and statements in reverse chronological order (newest on top).  Before you pay a bill, check your EOB folders to see that your primary (and secondary) insurance companies have paid their portion, or applied it to your annual deductible.  I've found that sometimes doctors submit claims to the wrong insurance company (which, of course, will deny the claim).  In that case, I called the doctor's office and gave them my accurate insurance information so they could re-submit the claim.  Record notes of any phone conversations you have with a doctor's office or your health insurance company about a particular bill directly on the bill, including the date of conversation and the name of the person with whom you spoke.
Chronic Illnesses and Major Hospitalizations will require more diligent record-keeping on your part.  You will likely see –and be billed by - many different healthcare providers during the course of your illness or procedure.  You can still use the 5-folder system I described above.  (You may need to use 3-ring binders instead of file folders, though.)  In addition to the file folders or binders, you will need to create a spreadsheet to manage your bills.  These are the columns to put across the top of your spreadsheet:
Service Date
Service Provider's Name
$        Billed Amount
$ Insurance-Approved Amt.
Primary Ins. Paid
$ Secondary Ins. Paid
$           Your Responsibility
Date Paid
The trigger to enter a transaction will be when you receive a bill from a provider.  Simply enter it in the first 3 columns of your spreadsheet, and refer to your EOBs to see how much they have approved and paid.  (Fill in columns 4, 5, and 6 with those amounts).  The difference between the insurance-approved amount and the amounts paid by your primary insurance company is your responsibility (column 7).  Record the date of your payment in column 8.
Your Homework for This Week
Follow the procedures I've described above to find your way out of the health insurance maze.

posted on: 4/26/2009 11:30:00 AM by Katherine Trezise
category: Finances

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Minimizing Financial Clutter

by Katherine Trezise

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About Katherine:

Katherine Trezise is president of Absolutely Organized, based in Baltimore, MD. She is president-elect of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. Katherine holds a masters degree in business administration, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®. Absolutely Organized specializes in helping people organize their homes, paperwork and financial records to make room in their lives for the things, people and activities that are most important to them.

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