What to keep and for how long?
First let me say that I am not a Medicare professional and I will not tell a client what to keep and what to toss. As with any type of documentation, the client is ultimately the one who will have the say. I can tell you that I called Medicare myself to ask a few questions and here is what they told me over the phone. For the record, I did have to wait on hold for a few minutes to get a person, but he was extremely patient and helpful. If you have any questions, please call them at 1-800-MEDICARE. Have you Medicare number handy to speed up the process!
- There is an annual publication called "Medicare and You" that you only need to keep for the calendar year. Once your new book has arrived, you can destroy the older version. You can elect to receive a digital copy of this file. Log on to medicare.gov for more information!
- Medicare Summary Notices should be kept until the bill is paid in full by both Medicare and the senior. (They said they can replace statements easily; however, they suggest that depending on each person's case, medical files should be retained for 1-3 years.)
- Finally, if you do receive Premium Notices (most seniors will not), those can be destroyed upon complete payment.
On a related note, I learned that you should not carry your Medicare card in your wallet. Medicare numbers are also Social Security Numbers and you need to protect it accordingly. Once you are on the program, most of your doctors will have copies of the documents you need and you should not need to show them the card every time. (This tip was from Shawn at the Office of Privacy Protection: http://datcp.wi.gov/Consumer/Office_of_Privacy_Protection/index.aspx )