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Keeping Up with Your Health and Financial Records

Why organizing your paper trail can save you time and money

Is your huge pile of paperwork putting the Leaning Tower of Pisa to shame? Now’s the time to make a clean sweep. When you put your health and financial records in order, you can save time, money … and lots of guesswork later on. These tips can help you tackle the pile.

Why organize?

If you can recall every receipt, bill or benefits paper without seeing it, wow. But if you’re like the rest of us, putting your papers in order can really help.

You can:

  • Prep for tax season.
  • Spot mistakes in any care you’ve received and money owed.
  • Save by using pre-tax money to pay for health care.
  • Pick the right plan at your next health planhealth plan
    A health plan that you buy or that is provided by your employer. It pays for health care services. I... more
    open enrollmentopen enrollment
    A time, often in the fall, when employees choose their health plans for the following year. You typi... more
    .
  • Know when it’s time for your next preventive carepreventive care
    Programs or services that can help maintain good health (such as annual physical exams or immunizati... more
    visit.

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The paperwork you should save

You can store your records in a filing cabinet, or scan them and store them online.

Whatever way you choose to do it — the key is just to do it.

Save these papers:

  • Health records: Write down your doctors’ names and contact details. Also add your blood type, allergies, dates/types of shots, X-rays and illnesses. You should also list pre-existing conditions. Update the list with anything new.
  • Insurance policies: Track the premiumspremiums
    The amount charged by a health insurer for a health insurance policy. If you have a health plan thro... more
    you paid and when you paid them.
  • Medical bills, receipts and explanation of benefits forms: Save these statements. If you plan to deduct medical costs on your taxes, this will come in very handy.

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Good recordkeeping can help you save on health benefits

For example, maybe you paid a little more in plan premiumspremiums
The amount charged by a health insurer for a health insurance policy. If you have a health plan thro... more
to visit any doctor. But what if every doctor you saw was in your plan's networknetwork
Also called "provider network." A panel of physicians, hospitals and other health care professionals... more
? When you keep good records, it's easier to break down where your plan dollars are going. And where you can save.

These tips can help, too:

  • Review your open enorllment packet or any plan details on your employer's website.
  • Note any plan changes for the coming year.
  • Keep track of your yearly expenses, including copays, drug costs and deductibles.

Most health plans have secure member websites where you can check a claimclaim
Information submitted to a health plan to request payment for medical services provided to a person ... more
, review your care visits, see how much you've paid and more. So if you can't find your paperwork, you may still be in luck.

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Are your benefits right for you tomorrow?

Look into your crystal ball. Do you foresee any major life changes that will affect your benefits? Even if you say “no,” it’s still wise to see if your plan could change with you, if necessary.

  • If you plan to have a baby: Are you happy with the gynecologists and pediatricians in your plan’s networknetwork
    Also called "provider network." A panel of physicians, hospitals and other health care professionals... more
    ?
  • If you plan to have a surgery: Will this plan protect your costs?
  • If you plan to get married: Have you compared the costs of both of your plans? 
  • If you plan to change jobs: Do you know how to transfer your 401k or 403b plan to your new job?
  • If you plan to retire: Do you know where to roll over your 401k? How about your IRA? Do you know everything you can about your pensionpension
    A retirement fund for employees (usually tax exempt) paid for or contributed to by an employer as pa... more
    ?
  • If you plan to get a pet: Many health plans now offer pet insurance. Find out more here.

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Spend money to save money with an FSA

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA)Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
A FSA is an account tied to an employer-sponsored health plan. It can be used to pay for medical exp... more
is a great idea. You can save on contacts, copays, braces and other health expenses you’d pay out of pocket. But if you don’t use the money you’ve put away for the year, you’ll lose it.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep and read your statements each month too see how much you’ve spent. And always check for mistakes.
  • Review your statements before you renew your plan. Maybe you need to contribute less. Or contribute more. Or maybe you don’t have enough health care costs to justify having an FSA at all.

Use this calculator to see how much you can save with an FSA.

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Safely store your important records

Keep your records handy and safe. Just put them in a safe-deposit box. This is a fire-proof way to store original documents that cost a lot of time or money to replace.

Think of these papers as your VIPs — very important papers:

  • Real estate deeds
  • Birth and death certificates
  • Marriage or divorce papers
  • List of insurance policies
  • Vehicle titles
  • Wills

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Store records online with a personal health record

Doctor's records here. Pharmacy records there. Health care records are scattered everywhere! With a personal health recordpersonal health record
A Personal Health Record (PHR) stores health-related information in a password-protected online reco... more
— or PHR — you can keep your own records in one, easy place. Online.

Here's what you could record:

  • Your blood type
  • Any allergies
  • Any history of illness in your family
  • Your emergencyemergency
    A serious medical condition resulting from injury or illness that arises su... more
    contact
  • Date of last physical
  • Dates and results of tests and screenings
  • Dates of major illnesses and surgeries
  • A list of your medicines and how long you've taken them
  • Any chronic diseases

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Tax tip

Saving your records could save you big on taxes. And some tax rules can affect how you save on health care. But the laws change fast — so ask your tax advisor how.

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