Getting Organized

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2013

After a cancer diagnosis, many people find that becoming well organized helps them gain a sense of control over all the information they receive, including financial information. The following suggestions may help as you start to track your costs and set up a personal system of organization.

Create a filing system that works for you. A filing cabinet or simple desktop divider with individual folders helps keep important information all in one place and makes it quick and easy to find. File new information as soon as possible, so it doesn’t get misplaced. Your files may include notes made during doctor appointments, copies of your laboratory test results, your personal insurance information, and contact information for your doctor’s office, medical center, insurance company, support organizations, and others.

Use technology as an organizational tool. If you prefer to use a computer to keep track of important information, 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 see, at a glance, the status of payments for medical services. It is also possible to track financial information related to your cancer care online or using an app.

Request a case manager. Ask your health insurance company if you can be assigned a case manager so you can talk with the same person each time you need to call. It is also important to keep current copies of all insurance policies and refer to them by name and number in any communications about insurance coverage.

Take good notes. Maintain a written record of all conversations you have with an insurance company representative, including the date, name of the person you spoke with, and what was said. Put the newest records at the front of your file so you have a clear and up-to-date list of these discussions.

Keep track of all unreimbursed medical expenses. This information may include the dates of each service, the amount paid, and the name of the provider. You may be able to claim these expenses for tax purposes. (A tax professional can provide advice on current rules and eligible expenses.)

Plan ahead. Try to decide ahead of time how to adjust your budget to deal with any loss of income due to less time at work or expenses that are not covered by insurance.

Ask for help. Friends and family members are great resources if you need help keeping track of your regular monthly bills. You might also want to consider using a bill-paying service to ensure payments are made on time.

More Information

Managing Your Care

Keeping a Personal Medical Record

Understanding the Costs Related to Cancer Care

Questions to Ask About Cost