A project of the George Washington University's Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

New rules make it easier for public to appeal denials of health insurance claims

Posted on July 22, 2010 | Comment (1)

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On July 22nd, new rules were issued easing patients’ ability to appeal health insurance claim denials. The new regulations guarantee that patients can appeal denials directly to insurers and then to an external review board, if necessary.

Comment (1)

Section 1411(f) of the Affordable Care Act requires the HHS Secretary to establish a federal appeals process covering appeals related to certain determinations made by Health Insurance Marketplaces: eligibility for enrollment in a QHP sold in the Marketplace; eligibility for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions; exemptions from individual responsibility to maintain minimum essential coverage; citizenship and lawful presence; the affordability of employer coverage; and inconsistencies involving information.
The right to a fair and impartial appeal when a group health plan or health insurer denies a claim would seem to be a basic matter of fairness. Historically, however, this has not been the case. Patient protections vary tremendously depending on the type of health insurance and federal and state legal requirements.
In a guidance issued Friday, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), US Department of Labor, and US Department of the Treasury extended the interim standards for state external review processes. These standards are meant to make health care claim denials easier for patients to appeal, as set forth in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the new guidance, health insurance issuers will be deemed compliant as long as their external review processes meet the National Association of Insurance Commissioner (NAIC) interim process standards established by Technical Release No. 2011-02. The transitional period expires January 1, 2016, and issuers will then have to meet the standards from the July 2010 regulations issued by the federal government.