Cancer, Bills, and Insurance: 4 Ways to Stay Organized

October 5, 2017
Nicole Van Hoey, PharmD

Keeping track of all of the financial paperwork involved in your cancer care can quickly become overwhelming.share on twitter Here are 4 ways you can stay organized and take control of that information.

1. Keep good notes

When you talk with a representative from your insurance company, make a written record of the conversation, including the date, the name of the person with whom you spoke, and what was said.

Be sure to keep track of all of your medical expenses, including which ones have and haven’t been paid back to you by insurance, if covered. This information may include the date(s) of each service, the amount paid, and the name of the provider. You may be able to claim some expenses for tax purposes. A tax professional can provide advice on current rules and eligible expenses.

2. Find a way to record and store your financial information

The slew of paperwork that comes from different places is a huge challenge in managing the costs of cancer. Some papers to save during treatment include:

  • Hospital, doctor, and/or treatment bills

  • Insurance claims/explanations of benefits (EOBs)

  • Insurance approval and/or denial letters

  • Authorization statements from your doctor

  • Other receipts, such as pharmacy bills

  • Notes or recordings of conversations, with dates, about finances with health care professionals or insurance representatives

If you’re going to easily find the documents later, you’ll need to have it well organized. You can save files both by date of service and by type of document. Here are some tools to help you get organized:

  • Paper file folders. These can be color-coded for different types of papers and filed in order by date.

  • Computer spreadsheets. Creating a spreadsheet with columns for the appointment date, doctor’s name, amount paid, status of the insurance claim, and other important notes can help you quickly see the status of payments for medical services.

  • Electronic health records. These can give you password-protected mobile access, often through a website (sometimes provided by your doctor’s office).

  • Technology apps and cloud storage. There are apps that allow you to save your own scanned or e-mailed files into a program, or just a separate computer folder, of your choice.

3. Have a plan to handle bills and payments

It’s hard to know exactly how much cancer and its treatment will cost, but it is possible to know some things in advance. Try to plan for a lower household income because of medical bills or time off work. Think about using automatic bill payment for your regular monthly bills, like utilities and rent or mortgage, so you can focus on the new paperwork that comes in.

Cancer-related bills can be a source of stress that can affect your quality of life and recovery during treatment. By tracking your costs and payments without clutter, you can lessen this stress.

4. Ask for help

Ask your health insurance company if you can have a case manager. This way, you can talk with the same person each time you need to call. Keep current copies of all insurance policies and refer to them by policy name and number in any communications about insurance coverage. A case manager can help you:

  • Find ways to organize your bills and payments for cancer treatments

  • Learn about costs of different treatments

  • Find programs that help pay for treatments

Also, consider asking a friend or family member to manage paying your bills. This person can help you adjust to a new household budget during cancer treatment and think of ways to find community resources to help. Also, ask your health care team for available financial resources, such as talking with a social worker.

In addition to personal help, there are many online tools and mobile apps that can help you organize your own finances and prepare for the expenses of cancer care. The finances of cancer care can be complicated. But, with some early planning, organizing and maintaining cancer-related bills and paperwork may feel less stressful to you and your family.