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Health care professionals: Dispute process FAQs

Who can use Aetna’s dispute process for practitioners and organizational providers?
Any health care professional who provides health care services to Aetna members can use the dispute process. In terms of our dispute process: 

  • Practitioners are individuals or groups who are licensed or otherwise authorized by the state in which they provide health care services to perform such services. Examples include physicians, podiatrists and independent nurse practitioners. 
  • Organizational providers are institutional providers and suppliers of health care services.

Examples include hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, independent durable medical equipment vendors and behavioral health organizations, such as mental health or residential treatment.

What is a dispute?
A dispute is a disagreement regarding a claim or utilization review decision.

What is the procedure for disputing a claim decision?
You may contact us by phone or mail within 180 days of receiving the decision. State regulations or your provider contract may allow more time.
To facilitate the handling of an issue:

  • State the reasons you disagree with our decision
  • Have the denial letter or Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement and the original claim available for reference.  Provide appropriate documentation to support your payment dispute (for example, a remittance advice from a Medicare carrier; medical records; office notes, etc).

What number should I call to dispute a claim decision?
1-800-624-0756 for HMO-based benefits plans and WA Primary Choice plans
1-888-632-3862 for indemnity and PPO-based benefits plans

Where should I send a claim dispute if I am submitting by mail?
See the denial letter or Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement in question for the address.

Can I submit reconsideration online? If so, how?
Submit online through the EOB claim search tool. Log in to the secure provider website via NaviNet® to access this tool.

What is a reconsideration?
A reconsideration is a formal review of a previous claim reimbursement or coding decision, or a claim that requires reprocessing.

What is a Level 1 appeal?
A Level 1 appeal is a verbal or written request by a practitioner/organizational provider to change:

  • An adverse reconsideration decision 
  • An adverse initial claim decision based on medical necessity or experimental/investigational coverage criteria 
  • An adverse initial utilization review decision

Claims decisions are all decisions made during the claims adjudication process. For example, decisions related to the provider contract, our claims payment policies, or processing error.

Utilization review decisions are decisions made during the precertification, concurrent or retrospective review processes for services that require precertification. For these types of issues, the practitioner and organizational provider appeal process only applies to appeals received subsequent to the services being rendered. The member appeal process applies to appeals related to pre-service or concurrent medical necessity decisions.

What is a Level 2 appeal?
A Level 2 appeal is a verbal or written request by a practitioner to change a Level 1 appeal decision.

How long do I have to submit a dispute?
See our timeframes to submit a reconsideration, Level 1 appeal or Level 2 appeal.

What is Aetna’s timeframe for responding to a dispute?
See our timeframes for responding to reconsideration, Level 1 appeal or Level 2 appeal.

Can all practitioners and organizational providers file both Level 1 and Level 2 appeals?
No. According to our policies, organizational providers (hospitals and facilities) may only file Level 1 appeals; however, in certain states they may have a second level of appeal. Practitioners may file both Level 1 and Level 2 appeals.

What can I do if I am contesting an urgent matter?
You may request an expedited appeal. Expedited appeals are available when precertification of urgent or ongoing services has been denied and a delay in decision making might seriously jeopardize the life or health of the member or otherwise jeopardize the member’s’ ability to regain maximum function.

We will resolve expedited appeals within 36 hours of receipt. Please note that the member appeals process applies to expedited appeals. Post-service appeals are not eligible for expedited handling. Refer to the member health plan benefits FAQs for more details.

Is there a fee for using Aetna’s dispute process?
No. However, there may be a charge if you decide to pursue an independent external review process.

What if my state has regulations that differ from Aetna’s process?
State law supersedes our process for disputes and appeals. We follow all state laws and regulations. State mandates requiring different time periods will take precedence, except as previously noted.

Appeals relating to Aetna Medicare plans are an exception. State laws do not apply to Medicare plans.

What is a member’s authorized representative?
A member may designate a practitioner or organizational provider as an “authorized representative” to file an appeal on his or her behalf for claims involving pre-service, urgent care or inpatient urgent concurrent review. The practitioner or organizational provider must be the member’s primary physician or a health care professional with knowledge of the member’s medical condition. The member appeal process applies to pre-service appeals.

Is any documentation required if I am filing an appeal on behalf of the member (acting as the member’s authorized representative) for a post service appeal?
Yes. Complete and have the member sign and date the Authorized Representative Request form. Return the form with the appeal request to authorize you to appeal on the member’s behalf in order to access member appeal rights.

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