Monday, April 25, 2011

How to file an appeal when a health insurer denies your claim

Picture this: Your 24-year-old daughter is seriously injured in a snowboarding accident. She suffered head injuries. She's heavily sedated. Your doctor wants to do urgent surgery to stem internal bleeding. It will be costly. But your health insurer refuses to authorize the surgery.

What do you do?

In the past, your options were to pay for the procedure yourself, get another opinion that will be less costly or do nothing. All are bad choices and time is critical.

We've posted a new "appeals kit" designed to help when insurers deny requests to authorize a particular service -- or to pay a claim afterward. The site can help you challenge decisions and appeal denials. We're one of the first states to compile this information into a one-stop, consumer-focused site.

In the case above, you'd have several choices:
  • File an urgent appeal with your health insurer.
  • If the insurer still says no, you can appeal to an independent third-party group made up of health care professionals. They can overrule your insurance company and make it pay. (Over the last three years, nearly 1 in 4 appeals that were sent to an independent review organization by a health plan ruled in favor of Washington consumers.)
  • You can sue.
  • Or you can file a complaint with our office
All this can be complicated, depending on your type of coverage, type of appeal, and the timeline. But the online guide walks you through those options, with a handy worksheet to keep track of key information, etc.

Check it out.
(Corrected two links. Thanks to Public Data Ferret for the heads-up.)