5 Timeless Tips for Family Record KeepersPosted by Medicare Made Clear
By Bill Bliesath, the Organizing Guy™
There are plenty of good reasons for keeping up-to-date health and Medicare records at home. To name just a few, it may help you:
- Track to make sure you’re taking full advantage of your Medicare benefits and that you’re not agreeing to tests, exams or other services you don’t need or that may not be covered.
- Produce proof of services received and bills paid if you need to back up a claim or dispute a denial.
- Provide easy access to critical information for family members and caregivers as needed.
So keeping records could be a good idea for you. Now what?
1. Appoint a Record Keeper
Someone has to take on the job of family record keeper. This doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself, but the “owner” of the task needs to make sure the job gets done.
Record keeping may be broken down into subtasks that others can do, hopefully without too much need for reminders or prodding. Who in your family might be suited for the job of record keeper?
2. Define What You Need to Keep
Your records may be as extensive or as simple as you like. At a minimum, you probably want to include:
- Health records and health insurance information
- Legal information such as social security numbers, advance directives, wills, etc.
- Financial institutions, account numbers, account passwords, safe deposit box information, etc.
- Contact information for doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, emergency contacts, etc.
You can find guidelines about what to keep, templates for organizing your papers and information, and simple directions for creating your own filing system in Medicare Made Clear’s SmartOrganizer. You can download it at no cost.
3. Learn How Long You Need to Keep It
Some critical material, such as a will, needs to be kept permanently. Other papers, like medical bills and tax-related documents, should be kept for three years. You may be surprised to know that only records of satisfied loans need to be kept for seven years. See what the federal government says about record keeping.
4. Create a Practical Filing System
Whether you use a desk drawer, a filing cabinet or a storage container, your files need to be organized and easy to use. Get tips on how to create a foolproof filing system.
5. Make It a Habit
Papers will not file themselves and as far as I know there is no “fairy file-mother.” Any kind of filing system is only as good as its filer. So set a time, make a cup of tea, put on your favorite music, and do the deed.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
Bill Bliesath, the Organizing Guy™, has been organizing homes, offices and businesses across the country for over fifteen years. He is one of the first and few in the nation to be certified by the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers. He enjoys sharing his expertise with others through keynote speeches, workshops, seminars, private consultations and hands-on organizing. The Organizing Guy and his expert teams are based in Los Angeles, California and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Visit his web site for more information at theorganizingguy.com.
Record Keeping: Get guidelines on what to keep and for how long
Keeping Family Household Records: Learn what the federal government says about record keeping
Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.
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