Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Organizing Medical Files

About this time of year I like to go through all my files and purge what I don't need to make room for incoming paperwork in the new year.

One very thick file that I have not addressed in the past few years is my medical file. The older I get, the more doctors I have and the bigger this file grows.

In the past, I have just had a file folder for each doctor with their business card as the tab. But some doctors have retired and have been replaced by new doctors. Some paperwork in there is probably duplicated elsewhere. And some information I want to find quickly without searching through fat files.

I realize that my medical records should include copies of all test/lab results, diagnoses, treatment reports, radiology reports, progress notes, insurance statements and any referrals from each medical facility I've visited.

I did some research on organizing the medical files and most postings recommended 3 hole punching the records and keeping them in a notebook with dividers. This sounds very organized and probably a good idea if you are just starting out. I find myself rebelling at going through all those papers and punching holes and organizing them in notebooks. I also don't see me taking care of all new paperwork following this process. So, I am going to stay with the hanging files. I am also going to skip the advice about color coding the individual files for the same reason. I do have a box file that is blue in my filing drawer that says Medical. The following files will go into this one big file folder.

As I go through and clean out my files, I will keep in mind that any documents related to insurance claims or payments should be kept up to five or seven years.

One thing I have not done that I will now do is create a table of contents. This will list all of my providers and their specialty along with a phone number. It will also note if the provider is still active.

Right behind the table of contents but in the same folder, I will list my immunizations and their dates.
I have also in the past few years made a practice of having any doctor give me a copy of the medical history forms they ask you to fill out each year. I will keep copies of these in this folder and always pull this folder when going to appointments. If I have guessed the date of my last period on a form, I want to keep using that guess on future forms. The same folder will then have a list of all medications both prescribed and supplements along with the pharmacy telephone number. I will also list there any allergies I have.

Test results and notes or history will be kept in the individual doctor folders with the newest information in front. If there are any legal medical papers signed for a procedure, HIPPA papers, or any other insurance papers, I will keep them in the individual doctor folders but grouped in the back of the folder.

If there is an ongoing illness or injury, more paperwork is necessary. A file should be created for the following categories:
  • Medical bills you receive from healthcare, labs, hospitals
  • Insurance claims you have filed
  • Insurance claims you have been paid
  • Medical bills you have paid
  • Receipts for out of pocket expenses like parking fees or non prescription drugs
  • Test results from this illness
  • Hospital discharge orders or documents
Then there are the EOBs or Explanation of Benefits. These define how a claim is processed, and what amount may be owed. They detail what medical procedures or treatments you have had and the specific dates. They list the codes for each treatment or item as well as a brief description of what the service entailed.

These should be kept for at least one year. Some groups say keep them for three to five years and certainly keep them until the medical claim is paid in full. For serious health conditions, keep all medical bills and EOBs on file in chronological order for at least five years after the last treatment date, or seven years if you've claimed the medical tax deduction.

Hold on to any questionable EOBs or those that cover chronic illnesses. Otherwise, if you are comfortable, shred these documents after one year.

All of this sounds like a lot of work and it is, but it will save you frustration down the road. Break this project down into small doable sections and conquer it one section at a time.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

I am seeing a lot of reminders to show gratitude on my social media recently. I think we are all weary of being told what is wrong with our world and as Thanksgiving is upon us, we want to turn our minds to all that is right, good, and wonderful.

We all have our lists but let me share mine. I would love to have you respond to this short post by sharing things that are on your gratitude list.

  • Family - our family that cares about each other and gathers together whenever possible and always has your back when you need help and support
  • Friends - the friends that call and check up on you and are always there to support you as well as just hanging out and making more wonderful memories
  • Health - our health may not always be great, but we are still here and doing all we can to continue to enjoy our lives in the healthiest manner possible
  • Work - I love my work and I am grateful that I can still get up and do things
  • Home - I love my home and the comfort it gives to my husband, myself, and anyone visiting
  • Pets - I am down to one cat now, but I love the energy she gives to our home
  • Food - we have an abundance of tasty food that nourishes our bodies. I love to both prepare food and eat it
  • Being wholly in this day
I hope all of you find many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Organizing the Attic or Basement Zone

November is a wonderful time to organize and clean out your attic or your basement zone. The temperature tends not to be too hot or cold for comfort. It is also an area where many of us store our holiday decorations.

As you prepare to work in this zone, first decide how you want to use this area in your home. You might include on your list storage of:
  • Seasonal decorations
  • Seasonal house items like fans or heaters
  • Household items you wish to keep but are not currently using
  • Toys, clothing, or other items you wish to pass on to friends and family
  • Out of season clothing or sports equipment
  • Suitcases
  • Archival paper
 Plan out a zone in your storage area for each category. Items you access frequently like suitcases or cat carriers should be near the entrance of this area and items you do not plan to use in the next year like unused household items are best stored furthest from the entry.

Attack the attic or basement zone by zone. Remove everything from the one zone you are working on and sweep down the area and look for any structural damage or infestations. As you place items back in the area, if you come across broken, unloved items, or multiple items (How many suitcases do you really use?) that have been hanging around for years, now is the time to let them go. You will feel so much lighter when they are gone. You will enjoy the room to move around.

Leave space between each zone so you can safely retrieve or store items.

Label all containers. Use large labels you can see from some distance. Even if a container is clear, it is hard to see what is inside if the lighting is dim.

It helps to locate different holiday items if you use colored or themed containers to store your decorations. Still label the containers with primary items. This keeps you from having to dig through multiple boxes to find the advent wreath or creche you want to use early in the season. Your organized attic or basement will make decorating and un-decorating a much easier task.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer