You are here: Home Insurance Health Insurance ... How To Track Of ... Summary
Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


If you are in a health plan that requires you or your doctor to file a claim, it is part of your job as an educated health care consumer is to keep track of your medical bills. By keeping track of your bills, you will:

  • Know how much your out-of-pocket costs are for purposes of creating a budget and for tax purposes.
  • Save money by making sure you?re not being overcharged for services.
  • Avoid problems with medical creditors, who are often persistent and quick to report late payments to a credit bureau.
  • Save valuable time.

There are many ways to set up a medical bill paying system. It is advisable to  to use a system that is easy for you and simple enough that others can step in and take over if necessary. With a good system, you'll always know the status of every claim from the day you incur a charge to the day you or your doctor receives payment

Click here to learn about an easy-to-use system which is also very inexpensive. All it takes are five manila folders and shuffling bills between folders. (If you are covered under more than one health policy, click here.)

Click here for suggested steps for using this system. 

Alternative means of keeping track of your bills include the following:

  • Creating your own system on your computer in programs such as Excel with a variety of columns, or in a word processing program where you move entries from section to section by cutting and pasting them. (Microsoft has a template for using Excel to keep track of medical expenses available at: offsite link
  • Computer software programs such as Quicken's Medical Bill Tracker, which is marketed as Quicken Medical. 
  • Follow on the insurance company's web site if it has such a feature.
    • More and more insurance companies are making claims information available via the Internet. Tracking the progress of your claims should be made easier if your insurance company has this system. However, since there is no standard format, the information and its accessibility vary from company to company.
    • To determine if your company provides internet claims tracking, enter the name of your insurance company (or administrator) in a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, Ask or Dogpile.
    • NOTE: Be careful what information you provide via the Internet until you have checked the company's Privacy Policy and are comfortable that the security systems protect any data you provide.
  • Ask a friend or family member to help keep track of your medical bills.
  • Hire a claims professional.

An Easy System To Keep Track Of Your Medical Bills

An easy tracking system is to set-up the following five folders which are to be stored together in a safe place (where children and the rain can't get at them).

The five folders are:

  • Unpaid Bills (Consider using a separate folder for each health care provider)
  • Explanations of Benefits (EOBs) (The insurance company's written response to your claim)
  • Questionable Bills (Bills that you need to check with your health care provider)
  • Questionable EOBs (Statements you need to check with the insurance company)
  • Completed Claims (Fully paid claims, including a copy of the credit card receipt, check or receipt of your cash payment)

NOTE: If you have more than one health plan, you will need two more folders: one for bills that have been processed by one company but not the other, and another for the second company's EOBs. To learn more, see the section below about more than one health plan.

For this system to work, you'll need to get a copy of each and every medical bill, including bills submitted directly to the insurance company by your provider or providers.

You may encounter some resistance from your provider to giving you copies of bills because most providers are no longer used to sending bills to patients. If you encounter resistance, explain to the billing person at your doctor's or other provider's office that you want to pay what you owe, but that without a copy of the itemized bill to compare to the insurance company's Explanation of Benefits (EOB), you have no way of knowing the correct amount.

Once your provider's office gets in the habit of providing you with a copy of their bill, you should hopefully encounter less resistance.

How To Use The Easy System To Keep Track Of Your Medical Bills

Step 1. After your visit, get a copy of the bill or make a record of what happened.

  • If your provider will give you a bill at the end of your visit: Review it right away and ask any questions on the spot.
  • If your provider is going to mail you a bill: Write down the specifics of what happened during the visit in your Health Journal, including any lab work or other procedures performed. When you receive your bill, check it.
    • If the bill is correct, put it in the "Unpaid Bills" folder.
    • If the bill is incorrect, put it in the "Questionable Bills" folder and follow up with the doctor's office.

Step 2. When you receive your bill, check it against your Journal or other notes for accuracy.

  • If your bill is correct: Put it in your "Unpaid Bills" folder.
  • If your bill does not seem correct: Contact your provider's office for an explanation and/or corrected bill. Place the bill into the Questionable Bills folder until you receive a corrected bill. Make sure the provider sends a corrected bill to the insurance company. Note this on the bill so you know you'll be receiving two EOBs: one for the incorrect bill and one for the corrected one.

Step 3. When you receive an Explanation of Benefits, place it in your "EOB" folder until you can review it.

Don't leave an EOB lying around. It's way too easy for things to get lost.

Step 4 . Review your EOB.

  • Find the matching bill in your unpaid bills folder. Use the date of service, provider information, and dollar amounts to make sure you're checking the right bill.
  • Make sure the procedures and amounts billed on the EOB match those on the bill.
  • Check to see that the entire bill was processed. If it wasn't, attach the EOB to the bill and file it in the unpaid bills until you get an EOB addressing the remainder of the charges.
  • Check to see whether the insurance company allowed the full charge or something less. If less, contact the insurance company.
  • Verify that the deductible was only taken once.
  • Verify that the right co-insurance percentage was applied.

If everything on the EOB is correct: Staple it to the bill and file it in your Completed Claims folder. If there is a portion remaining for which you are responsible, note that. You don't need to pay this money until the doctor bills you for it, or you arrive at an agreement with the doctor's billing clerk on how much you owe. (If the bill is large, consider negotiating the amount as well as payment terms). See Uninsured.

If your EOB is incorrect: Contact the insurance company for an explanation. File the bill and EOB together in the Questionable EOBs folder until you are able to resolve the errors), and you receive a corrected EOB.? For guidance, see: Questioning An EOB and Talking With Your Insurance Company.

Step 5. Periodically review your Unpaid Bills file.

Set a rotating alert in your computer or note follow up dates in your diary to remind you to review your Unpaid Bills file every few weeks.

If a bill has been in the file for more than four weeks without receiving a matching EOB, call the insurance company to check on the claim's status. Some companies also allow you to check the status of your claim online.? If so, that will often be the quickest and easiest way of following-up.

You may want to wait until you have three or four claims assembled with questions before calling the insurance company -- but don't wait more than 30 days from receipt of the EOB. A longer delay may provoke a "if he/she doesn't care, why should I?" attitude which may hamper your getting what you're entitled to.

If You Are Covered Under More Than One Health Insurance Plan

The insurance companies (including Medicare) determine which pays first, and which pays second as well as how much each pays - under an industry wide system known as "Coordination Of Benefits."

    • The company that pays first is known as the "primary" insurance company.
    • The company that pays second is "secondary."

The secondary carrier will not process the claim until the primary carrier has completed processing it. Also, in addition to the itemized bill, the secondary carrier will require a copy of the primary carrier's EOB. See the section above, An Easy Tracking System.

Create a set of folders for each plan as you would if you only had one health plan. Create two more folders for each insurance company: one for bills that have been processed by your primary insurance company but not the second one, and another for the second plan's EOBs. By using this system you will be able to keep track of what is happening with each company in your folders.

To Learn More

More Information

Coordination of Benefits