Appeal Denial, a Play in 4 Acts

The transcript below is a real email conversation I had with a patient who was trying to appeal a denied service. Reading this might help you avoid some of the delays we had with the appeal denial process and give you some direction on the steps you need to take if you want to file a claim appeal. The example refers to CPT Code 93880, which is a CIMT test performed at our office and often denied by out-of-state health insurance companies. You can potentially adapt the conversation to any CPT code, service, and price, as the process is very similar for appealing almost any denied service.

If you have any questions, please contact Ryan!

The Appeal Denial Begins (Act 1)

ME: We just received a denial for your CIMT test from February stating it was a “non-covered service” on your plan. That is the only information we received on our end – would you possibly be able to share the information on your statement with me so I can figure out if there is anything we can do for the appeal denial? Depending on why they determined it to be “non-covered,” we may have a few options available to get it covered. Thanks!

PATIENT: How much is it if it isn’t covered? I could dig into it a bit more, but if it’s hundreds of dollars, I’ll be extra motivated. 🙂 Are they usually covered by patients’ coverage?

ME: Yeah, it is usually covered. I was surprised to get the denial. It was $198.65, so it’ll probably be worth trying. I kind of enjoy trying to win these appeals, so I hope you’ll give it a shot! 🙂

PATIENT: I’d love to give it a shot! I’ll put that $200 to much better use. Is there any information I can send along in the meantime? I have had poor cholesterol and my family has a history of heart disease. The test revealed some unfortunate news about my “arterial age” and led to a cardiologist visit. Does that help my case? 🙂

ME: Your EOB from your insurance will probably have more details – I have attached the version I received on my end. Can you see what details yours shows? I’m not sending you an invoice since I think we can get it covered, but I can if that might help. A letter of medical necessity is one of the last options we have for an appeal, so that information should help if we get to that point. Hope it is easier than that, but we’ll see what your EOB says and go from there. Thanks!

Eight Weeks Later (Act 2)

PATIENT: Still no EOB in the mail. I wonder if I’ll ever get anything. Could we move forward in some other way?

ME: Do you possibly have electronic-only EOBs enabled? Can you login to an account with your insurance and look at your claims?

PATIENT: Good thoughts. I do have access to my online account and there is an EOB in there! I attached it. There’s not much more in there, unfortunately. What can I do to help this effort?

ME: You may need to call them to get a better reason why it was considered non-covered. Sometimes, they just accidentally call it non-covered and as soon as you try to ask them why, it magically gets fixed immediately. The EOB is good to have if we’re filing an appeal, though, so that can be your proof of a denied claim (one of the three things they’ll probably need to initiate an appeal). I know it’s a hassle, but it’s really helpful to have an actual reason why it is non-covered before trying to submit anything just so we don’t run into the same problem after an appeal.

Someone at your insurer’s customer service department should be able to answer this question: “Why was CPT Code 93880 considered a non-covered service under my plan?” The process for an appeal denial is pretty much the same no matter what, but we’d give them different content depending on why they claim its non-covered. I hope that helps!

PATIENT: Great, thanks Ryan! I’ll give them a call soon and ask that exact question. I’ll be in touch.

Two Weeks Later (Act 3)

ME: Just an update to let you know BCBS requested all records related to the CIMT service. I just sent them about 20 pages worth of notes your provider thought were relevant, so we’ll see how they respond in about 4 weeks. You should get a long letter in the mail if it is denied again, or a short letter if they approve it. Your letter usually arrives about 2 weeks before ours, so let me know which you get and I can start fixing the new outcome a little sooner.

PATIENT: That’s great! Thank you for staying on top of this, Ryan. I have so much else to do during the day, I’ve been kicking the “call BCBS” can down the road. It sounds like they’re still in the process of determining whether it should be covered. I appreciate it, as always.

Three Months Later (Act 4)

ME: Have you heard anything yet? I received a appeal denial saying it was duplicate (meaning they didn’t change their mind about it being non-covered) a few weeks ago, but nothing else. Did you happen to get a full explanation of the appeal’s denial? Thanks!

PATIENT: Huh… you know, I never received anything more in the mail, and I never checked back up on my dashboard. I’m doing that now…Okay, done looking it up. It does look like I have 2 outstanding claims and I owe ~$200, but that seems lower than I recall it being. Both are for “Vascular Study.” Let me know if there’s any more info I can get you. I should probably pay this dang claim if I haven’t already.

ME: That kind of confirms what I got – just hoping for better news from you. I’ll send you an invoice so you can use your flex card to pay the balance. Thanks for the reply!

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