How Long Should You Keep EOBs?
Even if you don’t have any ongoing medical issues, they flow in like Harry Potter’s invitations to Hogwarts—Explanations of Benefits, or EOBs. They can clog up your files, especially if your insurance covers several family members.
These are important documents, particularly if you are undergoing regular medical treatment. But how long do you need to keep them? As with most documents, that depends on a lot of factors.
When you have questions about shredding personal documents, call TrueShred at 888-322-3218. We can help you determine if you should keep or shred a certain document.
What Is the Explanation of Benefits For?
Why exactly do you get EOBs? They’re not bills—which is why, believe it or not, many people just throw them away.
An Explanation of Benefits is dispensed to both patient and provider, as a means of identifying how a claim is processed, and what amount may be owed by the patient. Medical EOBs are beneficial for a number of reasons, but how long should you keep them on file? As with any other personal documents, the length of retention time is dependent on a number of variables. Regardless of how long you choose to retain them, make sure they are stored and then disposed of securely to prevent your sensitive data from falling in to the wrong hands.
The EOB details exactly what medical procedures or treatments you or someone on your health insurance underwent on specific dates. They list the codes for each treatment or item as well as a short description of what the service entailed. The EOB breaks down:
- Services/treatments provided to the patient
- What the doctor, hospital, or other provider charged for the service(s)
- The charges that are covered and the charges that are NOT covered by your insurance
- What your insurance company paid the provider
- The amount you’re responsible for paying to the provider
It’s important to note that an EOB is not a bill, but a breakdown of how an insurance claim was paid on your behalf. If you see something on your EOB that doesn’t look right or isn’t accurate, contact your insurance company right away.
How Long Should You Keep EOBs?
Experts recommend keeping medical EOBs for a set period of time, but how long depends on the individual circumstances of the patient in question. The IRS advises taxpayers to keep relevant documentation for as long as they may be needed to verify deductions; if you’ve included the medical tax deduction on your return, file the EOBs along with the rest of your tax documents for seven years. Additional guidelines based on health include:
Standard Health Conditions
- Store EOBs and medical bills securely, comparing related items for accuracy, keeping track of your deductible, and ensuring no services were double billed.
- If you are not claiming the medical tax deduction on your return, medical payments have been satisfied by all parties, and your medical condition has been resolved, you can safely dispose of your EOBs.
- If payments are outstanding, there are any billing discrepancies, or treatment is ongoing, file the EOBs in a secure location and revisit them the following year.
Serious Health Conditions
- Keep all medical bills and EOBs on file, comparing related items for accuracy.
- Securely store EOBs in chronological order for future reference.
- In the event of chronic or serious illness, keep EOBs for five years after the last treatment date, or seven years after you’ve claimed the medical tax deduction.
Keep Your EOBs If…
When there is a problem or question with an EOB or a medical service listed on an EOB, hold on to that document at least until the issue is resolved and all parties have been notified of the resolution.
Otherwise, here are some general guidelines about keeping EOBs:
- If there is no question or problem with an explanation of benefits, keep it filed for one year from the day it was issued
- Keep your EOB someplace easily accessible until you match it with its corresponding hospital or doctor’s bill; then file the two together (and keep for a year)
- If you are supervising or assisting with the care of someone, like an elderly or chronically ill relative, you may want to keep their explanation of benefits in order to have a record of their health history. It’s easy for those undergoing treatment for serious medical conditions to lose track of what services they’ve received and when.
- When you or someone you are caring for is seriously ill, it is recommend that you keep EOBs for five years after the illness or condition is alleviated. If you or the patient is claiming or has claimed a medical deduction, keep the explanation of benefits for seven years.
The bottom line is: hold on to any questionable EOBs or those that cover services for chronic illnesses. Otherwise, feel free to shred these documents after one year.
Learn more about what to look for in your Explanations of Benefits.
Secure Storage & Disposal Of EOBs
EOBs and other sensitive documents, contain personal information which can be used for identity theft and should always be stored and disposed of in a secure manner.
Storage of Explanation of Benefits
Store sensitive documents in a secure location, or scan them and store them on your hard drive, or in the cloud, with password protection.
Disposal of Explanation of Benefits
Once EOBs are no longer needed, it’s imperative they are shredded by a trusted, skilled company like TrueShred, rather than with a personal shredder. Onsite shredding services allow you to follow the chain of custody, ensuring the integrity of your personal data.
You Can Trust TrueShred Through The Entire Shredding Process
- Trust our team – TrueShred is a locally owned and operated family business founded by security industry professionals.
- Trust our security – TrueShred ensures a secure chain of custody for your sensitive material from the time it leaves your office to the conclusion of the curbside shredding process.
- Trust our compliance – TrueShred issues Certificates of Destruction for your HIPAA, FACTA, or Gramm/Leach/Bliley compliance records.
- Trust our reliability – TrueShred arrives on your scheduled date or your service is free. Your satisfaction is always guaranteed—period!
- Trust our pricing – TrueShred pricing is simple, fair, and straightforward with no surcharges and no surprises.
If you have questions about personal document shredding, or want to schedule an on-site shredding job, call TrueShred at 888-322-3218 or contact us online.