Your Medical Checklist: What You Need To Know

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I learned the importance of maintaining a medical checklist. I also learned how little I really knew about my health records and family history. I had to collect information quickly and document each step of treatment and medication.

This information is now carefully filed, and I have told my husband where to locate the information. Each time I visit a doctor and am asked to update my records I am better prepared. I learned that keeping medical records updated for each family member is important, especially when an emergency or major illness occurs.

What you need to record

Compile a permanent medical dossier for yourself and your children be prepared to bring it to doctors’ visits. Here is a list:

  • A record of all allergies (environmental, food, medications, materials like latex)
  • List of current medications, dosages and frequency taken
  • Vitamins or supplements taken and dosages
  • History of illnesses and surgeries and dates they occurred
  • Family history of major illnesses

Preparing for your doctor’s visit:

Make sure you understand your health insurance plan and bring the necessary identification and paperwork. Here are some things you need to know before walking into the medical facility:

  • Do you need a primary care physician referral to see a specialist? If a paper referral is required versus electronic (find out from your carrier), it can take several days to secure. Don’t what until the last minute.
  • What is your co-pay for your initial consultations, doctors’ visits, surgery and medications?
  • Do you have an out of network plan? If yes, how does it work and what are the limits and guidelines?
  • How many medical opinions are required for any major treatment or surgery?
  • Are second or third options covered by insurance?
  • How are medical emergencies covered?
  • Is coverage limited to your region, or can you seek treatment out of state?

Reading the fine print

Dealing with medical expenses and insurance paperwork for reimbursements can add stress at a time when you don’t need more. It is important to read the fine print and to keep every receipt filed.

Your insurance provider should generate an “Explanation of Benefits” (EOB) for every medical claim. The EOB tells you what the insurance carrier has paid the medical facility and what your personal financial responsibility is. Make sure that amount matches the actual bill the hospital or treatment center sends you to pay.

If you see something amiss on either the bill or the EOB, contact your insurance company immediately to inquire. Most insurance carriers allow ninety to one hundred and eighty days for patients to address and dispute claims. It is your right to appeal any claim

File yours and your family’s medical records in a secure place and tell your spouse or partner where they are kept in case he/she needs to step in as a heath care proxy to handle your medical paperwork if you are unable to manage it on your own.

Published on: June 28, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Melanie Young

Women’s empowerment advocate, marketing specialist and breast cancer survivor Melanie Young is author of Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor's Guide to Staying Fearless and Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer

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