How Long Should You Keep Health Insurance Records?

by Miranda Morley
Shred medical records to protect your privacy.

If your stack of health insurance records is slowly starting to take over your closet or study, you're probably ready to toss some of them. On the other hand, you would hate to get rid of some of your health records only to find that you need them to correct an error in the future. Which health insurance records you need to keep depends on your personal situation, but as a general rule, you can dispose of documents that pertain to treatments that already have been completed and paid in full.

Keeping Records for Insurance

Keep health insurance records until current treatments are completed, the health insurance company has paid for them and you're confident that the matter has been resolved. If you dispose of records before this time, you could end up unable to prove your case if mistakes are made or the insurance company refuses to pay your medical bills. If you're not confident that the treatments and payments are completely closed cases, keep the documents longer.

Keeping Records for Personal Health Tracking

Although electronic health records now make it easier for doctors across practices to view your entire health history, many patients feel more comfortable keeping a personal record of their health care. If you are assembling health insurance documents to keep a record of your treatments, you may want to keep the records indefinitely.

Keeping Records for Tax Purposes

You can deduct medical or other expenses on your federal tax return under certain conditions. If your health insurance records double as proof of your out-of-pocket cost for your treatments, you may want to keep them for at least seven years because the IRS can audit you for at least seven years after you file each tax return.

Electronic Records

Keeping electronic records of your health insurance paperwork can save you space and help protect your identity. Make electronic copies of your records by scanning them or taking photos, then store them in a secure location, such as a computer hard drive or password-protected cloud storage. All health insurance companies' rules and regulations vary, so you should contact your health insurance company to ensure it will accept your electronic records should you need to present them. The IRS accepts electronic records, and you can easily keep an electronic portfolio of records for personal use.

About the Author

Miranda Morley is an educator, business consultant and owner of a copywriting/social-media management company. Her work has been featured in the "Boston Literary Magazine," "Subversify Magazine" and "American Builder's Quarterly." Morley has a B.A. in English, political science and international relations. She is completing her M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University Calumet.

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