How Long Do You Need to Keep Medical Insurance Records?
Although many organizations are converting to a more paperless environment, physical records remain a big part of business, particularly within the health care industry. When it comes to medical insurance records, copies are generated each time there is any activity on your account, and for many, that can mean a significant accumulation of paper over time.
If your desktop or filing cabinets are overrun with medical documents, and you want to streamline your files and optimize your space, TrueShred can help shred dated documents. You just need to determine which medical insurance records to keep and which to shred.
Medical Reports and Your Personal Information
You may keep various records — medical history records, medical tests, doctor’s reports and receipts. Keep your documents in a safe place to:
- Monitor your chronic conditions.
- Adhere to treatment plans.
- Identify and rectify errors.
- Track your progress in wellness programs or managing diseases.
The Importance of Record Keeping
Keeping your medical insurance records for a specified time is vital for:
- Health tracking: Although your electronic health records are available to physicians across multiple practices, in an effort to provide more streamlined health care, you may want to keep your own records on file to keep track of your health.
- Fact-checking: Medical insurance records provide a reference point to detect billing errors and prevent fraud.
- Tax purposes: If you qualify for a medical expense deduction, you’ll need to retain these documents as proof of your out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatment.
- Entitlement: Keep records on file to ensure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to.
- Proof: If your insurance policy includes an annual deductible, medical insurance records can help to verify the point at which the deductible has been met.
Protecting Your Records and Information
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a strict federal law protecting sensitive information from being disclosed without your knowledge and consent. Although HIPAA closely monitors and regulates how the health care industry manages your medical reports and documents, it cannot control how you discard or store your medical records.
To keep your medical documents safe, you should store them in a locked and secure location in your home. If you no longer need to save the reports, have them professionally shredded to safeguard your information and identity.
Factors to Consider in Keeping Medical Records
Factors influencing whether to keep medical records or securely dispose of them include:
- Insurance: Once any ongoing treatments have been completed, and you and your insurance carrier have satisfied the obligations for payment, there is no longer a need to keep these records for insurance purposes. If you need to look back at your records, your insurance company will have digital and hardcopy records on file.
- Record keeping: In the event of a serious or chronic illness, or as a matter of personal record keeping, medical insurance records may be kept indefinitely. To keep your health information and other personal data from falling into the wrong hands, be sure to store this information securely.
- Taxes: If you meet the threshold for a medical expense deduction, copies of your medical insurance records should be kept on file along with your tax return, for a minimum of seven years.
Organizing Your Medical Records
Organizing your medical records helps you efficiently access your documents when needed for tax, insurance or health purposes. To manage your records effectively:
- Create a medical file: Whenever you get home after an appointment, place any medical documents in your file. You can request your doctors to give you copies if you misplaced previous records. Hospitals may be more tricky to get past records from. Use what you can to build a comprehensive and easy-to-locate file.
- Organize the file: Keep your documents chronological and include a table of contents to know what is in the file. You can leverage dividers to manage your records further.
- Make digital copies: Scan your documents as a backup should your hard copies be damaged. Keep digital copies in a secure folder and on a password-protected device.
- Keep your records safe: Keep documents secure by storing them in locked cabinets or drawers. Routinely check what papers you no longer need and get your documents professionally shredded to keep your information from landing in the wrong hands.
Safely Disposing of Your Medical Records
Shredding your medical records instead of throwing them away when you don’t need them anymore protects your sensitive and personal information from identity theft criminals. TrueShred provides mobile shredding trucks that destroy documents curbside at your property. We provide:
- Professional service: Our team delivers secure, on-site document destruction by trusted professionals.
- Certain processes: We ensure the confidential, permanent destruction of paper documents with a secure chain of custody.
- Transparent shredding: You can view the entire shredding process via closed circuit monitors, giving you peace of mind.
- Sustainable practices: We securely recycle the destroyed particles, ensuring sustainability.
Secure Document Destruction in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The disposal of unwanted documents can be carried out in a number of ways, including recycling, tossing them in the garbage or shredding. Due to the confidential nature of medical insurance records, shredding is the best option. But home office shredders are ineffective, as materials may be easily reassembled and used to commit identity theft.
Manage your medical documents properly by securely destroying dated documents. TrueShred will help you eliminate documents quickly and affordably. Contact our team today to schedule service or request a quote.
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