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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Answers to common questions about handling grievances with your health insurance company.

WebMD Feature

Health Care Reform and Settling Grievances: FAQ

It’s no secret that people and their insurance companies sometimes clash over which medical services will be covered.

Many WebMD readers have posted questions about consumer rights under the new health reform law -- especially when it comes to fighting against an insurance company decision that seems unjust.

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about health reform and filing grievances with insurers.

Q: If you feel your health insurance company is not following the new laws, who do you contact?

A: If you have reason to believe your insurance company is not complying with provisions under the Accountable Care Act you can contact your state’s department of insurance to file a complaint.

If you get your health insurance through your job, it’s also a good idea to discuss your concerns with your human resources department. Or you can contact the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Advisors for help by calling 866-444-EBSA (3272).

Q: How long will the appeal process take or how soon should I expect the matter to be settled?

A: You’re entitled to appeal directly to your insurer if it:

  • denied payment for your care
  • ruled that your care was not medically necessary
  • said that you’re not eligible for the benefit in question
  • claimed that your treatment is experimental
  • claimed that you have a pre-existing condition

The new law sets the following timelines for insurance companies to review and decide on an appeal:

  • 72 hours for denials of urgent care
  • 30 days for denials of nonurgent care you have not yet received
  • 60 days for denials of service you have already received

Q: What if my appeal with my insurance company is denied?

A: If your appeal is denied, you are entitled to an explanation from your insurer. The plan is also required to explain how you can go about filing an external appeal, in which your case is reviewed by an independent third party.

Keep in mind that if your case is urgent and you or a loved one are in danger of becoming increasingly ill without treatment, you can ask to have both the internal review and external review conducted at the same time.

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