** this post originally appeared on TuDiabetes on April 15, 2009. Given that it is National Chronic Illness Awareness Week, I thought describing the insurance hoops we often have to jump through was a relevant topic
Well, after a battle with Coventry Healthcare of Kansas, I received a phone call today telling me that my appeal had been approved and that I would be able to get coverage for a CGMS. I may be the first person that Coventry has approved for such a device.
What I really learned tho, is how an appeal process really works.
When you appeal, Coventry (and maybe other companies) will ONLY send the information that you include with the appeal itself. It is up to the reviewing doctor then to get other information either from Coventry or your doctor.
My first claim for a 72-hr CGMS test was denied as experimental and the doctor seems to have simply assumed that I was a Type 2 based upon my age. He then proceeded to give me all sorts of evidence that CGMS systems were NOT experimental IF I was a T1 and on “intensive insulin therapy” (ie a pump). I provided that information (which my insurance company already had) and the test was approved.
I then applied for a CGMS device of my very own. The authorization was denied as being experimental, as I expected. I then appealed and quoted all the evidence from the previous denial that it was not experimental. They gave me all the evidence I needed to show that it was not experimental.
Basically, IMHO, the denial was automatic, the first appeal review was half-arsed and that is why they got backed into a corner and basically had to authorize the device.
So how to appeal from now on. Assume that the person reviewing the claim will NOT seek any other information. Include any information that you feel might be applicable. Do not waste an initial appeal finding out why something was deemed experimental. Find out the basis of the experimental decision, preferably in writing, before you file your appeal. Most plans have 2 appeal levels, after that, it’s off to court you go.
So, don’t be afraid to appeal. Many people will get a denial and go “I really need that treatment, but there’s nothing I can do”. The insurance company HAS to explain the appeals process to you, it’s the law. You may not always win, but at least you are fighting for what you need to live long, healthy life.
It only takes some time and patience to file an appeal. Get supporting letters of medical necessity from your doctor, gather all the information you can from every reliable place you can find it. Write a concise, non-emotional, professional letter that ties together all the information you are providing.
As a disclaimer, our insurance plan is a self-funded ERISA plan, which are regulated by the US Department of Labor as opposed to the Insurance Commissioner of your state. Being self-funded gives the plan-administrator a lot of flexibility in approving things since our company pays for the coverage, not Coventry. I asked our administrator today if she had spoken to anyone at Coventry about this and she said no, so it seems that Coventry approved this on their own. However, the story could have been different if the plan had been premium-funded. After a second level appeal, an ERISA plan requires the involvement of the Department of Labor to appeal past that point, I have no experience with that aspect.
If my plan had not been ERISA, after the second level appeal I would have then appealed to the Insurance Commissioner for the State of Kansas.
Remember, insurance companies make more money by not paying out claims. Sometimes denying a claim is justified, sometimes it is predatory.
I’ve recently gotten very tired of predators.
Thanks for stopping by,
Today’s snarky comment: Why are you still here? It’s Friday for crying out loud