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How Long to Keep Medical Insurance Records

“To sum it up…”

  • It is generally acceptable to dispose of your health insurance records if your medical treatment was successfully completed quite some time ago and the bill has been paid in its entirety
  • Health records can be retained indefinitely if you would like to keep track of your own health related issues and refer back to them at a later time. This could be useful to any person suffering from a long-term ailment or illness
  • The IRS can ask for records dating back seven years, so you will want to keep any health insurance records that you claimed on your federal tax return for at least that period of time.
  • If you are concerned about having so much written documentation around your home or office, it is quite easy to switch to electronic records. This will help protect your identify while saving space and providing you with easy access to the information when you need or want it

Health and Insurance Records Go Hand-in-Hand


Many people go through prolonged treatments and procedures. There are times when one visit to a doctor or specialist is just not sufficient enough to cure what ails you. If that describes your current situation, you will want to keep all of the health-related records and receipts that you receive until your health provider assures you that they have been paid in full. This means that your health insurance company has paid out your claim.

Prior to that point, there are still many things that could go wrong so it is best to hang onto those records. Remember that mistakes can be made. As a consequence, it is always better to have documentation lying around just in case you need it.

You will also want to remain mindful that any given insurance company may refuse to pay the share of medical expenses that you were counting on them to take care of. This does not mean that you are out of luck, but you will need to appeal the decision.

To do that effectively, you will want to have all of the records associated with your medical expenses in order to better your odds of getting the matter resolved quickly in your favor.

You will also want to keep any records for treatments that you might need again in the future. This allows your medical providers and insurance company to see what is going on and advise you on your best course of action moving forward. If you are in doubt about whether or not you can discard certain records, you might just want to hang onto them until you are certain.

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Keep Tabs on Your own Health


As we age, it becomes increasingly important to notice patterns in our health. That becomes more difficult over time, however, as visits to the doctors mount up and we begin to have trouble recalling one trip from another. This is made much simpler with the health records that you can keep on file.

Having your medical records can also be quite handy for new doctors that might not have ready access to past treatments and procedures. Instead of them needing to track this down, wasting a great deal of time, you can provide them with what they need in order better understand what course of action to take with you.

It is also often helpful to maintain documents pertaining to your health records in order to preserve your own medical history.

This could be important for many reasons, including passing the information down to your children, ensuring that future doctors have the information they need to make better and more informed decisions and to guide your own memory about where you have been.

You could access this information via electronic records that you store, and we will mention that more in depth here shortly. This information could all serve as motivation to live a healthier and more balanced lifestyle as well.

The Tax Man Often Requests Health Insurance Records


Nobody sets out to incur health related expenses just to take a tax deduction, but this is nonetheless a benefit that you may very well be taking advantage of. If so, you will want to keep the records on hand for at least seven years, as this is the amount of time that the IRS has to go back and request them.

Proper documentation will help support any medical related tax deductions that you might claim on your taxes, which will save you the trouble of having to track them down years after the fact. Here is what you need to know about this:

  • Records related to health expenses will help you when it comes time to file your taxes. You do not want to forget major expenses incurred that will help you reduce your overall tax bill.
  • The IRS has up to seven years to request complete documentation related to your health insurance records, so it is important to keep them at least that long.
  • It will be difficult to recreate your expenses after the fact, particularly if a provider ceases its operation before you can get the records. Storing these in a secure location is the best way to go.

You pay a lot for your health insurance and related medical expenses, so you will want to do all you can to reduce your tax bill as much as possible. Keeping your records for a sufficient amount of time is definitely a step in the right direction in this regard.

Consider Electronic Document Storage and Retrieval Methods


Many people are concerned about the privacy of their medical information. That concern is certainly well founded, and paper documentation can leave you vulnerable. If you have been hesitant to keep paper copies of your medical insurance records around the house for fear that you will lose them or they will fall into the wrong hands, it is time to consider storing them electronically.

Digital security is much more advanced today than it was just a few years ago. You can scan records as you receive them and then shred the paper copies you have.

Alternatively, many providers now will give you the option of receiving electronic documentation automatically, cutting out the need for a paper trail altogether.

It should be noted that there are still some heath insurance providers who will not accept electronic copies of medical records and expenses, so you will want to check with yours just to be on the safe side. If you need to keep a paper copy, you will want to make sure that you do so for all the reasons already mentioned here in this article.

The IRS already accepts electronic documentation for your medical records, so you will be all set on that front.

In Conclusion…


There are many reasons that you will want to keep your medical insurance records for a certain period of time. This is important from both a health-related and financial point of view. That being said, there is a case to be made for not having endless amounts of medical related documentation lying around the house if you will never have a need for it.

There are also privacy concerns at hand as well. This is why keeping the paper documentation in a secure location is advisable, as is switching to electronic documentation if at all possible.

Beyond that, follow the guidelines set forth in this article about when to hold onto the records and when to shred them, and you should be just fine.

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  1. http://www.napo-gpc.org/blog/2012/03/how-long-should-i-keep-explanations-of-benefits-from-medicare-and-health-insurance-companies/
  2. http://classroom.synonym.com/long-should-keep-health-insurance-records-13623.html
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