Using non-participating health care providers or facilities, Oxford Commercial Supplement - 2022 UnitedHealthcare Administrative Guide

As a participating health care provider, you must use participating health care providers and facilities within the member’s benefit plan network (i.e., Liberty Network). We have a compliance program to identify participating health care providers who regularly use non-participating health care providers and facilities. We take appropriate measures to enforce compliance.

If a member asks you for a recommendation to a non-participating health care provider, you must tell the member you may not refer to a non-participating health care provider. The member must contact us to obtain the required prior authorization by calling 1-800-444-6222.

If you contact us for authorization to perform a non-emergency procedure at a non-participating facility for a member who has out-of-network benefits, we may authorize the procedure as out-of-network.

This means the reimbursement to the non-participating facility is subject to the member’s out-of-network deductible and coinsurance obligations. The non-participating facility’s charges are only eligible for coverage up to the reimbursement levels available under the member’s benefit plan, using either a usual, customary and reasonable (UCR) fee schedule or a Medicare reimbursement system called the Out-of-Network Reimbursement Amount for our New York members.

Members are responsible for paying their out-of-pocket cost and the difference between the UCR fee or other out-of-network reimbursement and the non-participating facility’s billed charges. Remind the member their expenses may be significantly higher when using a non-participating health care provider.

If you contact us for authorization to perform a non-emergency procedure at a non-participating facility on a member who does not have out-of-network benefits (HMO and EPO benefit plan members), we may deny the services based on the benefit plan.

If you ask for an exception, we may consider it only when our medical director determines in advance that:

  1. Our network does not have an appropriate participating network provider who can deliver the necessary care.
  2. Medically necessary services are not available through our network providers.

In such cases, we will approve the requested authorization. It must include a treatment plan approved by our medical director, the PCP and the non-participating health care provider.

Exception process for the use of non-participating health care providers (New York and Connecticut)

For participating health care providers, the use of participating health care providers is required unless:

  1.  We approved an in-network exception.
  2.  The member explicitly agrees prior to the service (no more than 90 days before the scheduled date of the procedure) to receive services from a non-participating health care provider by signing the applicable consent form and understands that the use of this health care provider is:

a.  Out-of-Network: For members with out-of-network benefits, we pay non-care provider claims at the out-of-network benefit level. Out-of-network cost-shares and deductibles apply.
b.  Denied: For members without out-of-network benefits, we deny non-participating health care provider claims as not covered because the member has no coverage for services provided by non-participating health care providers. Members are therefore responsible for the entire cost of the service.

For more information, go to > For Commercial Plans > UnitedHealthcare® Oxford Clinical, Administrative and Reimbursement Policies. Specific policies include but are not limited to:

  • Participating Providers Using Non-Participating Providers Protocol
  • Participating Gastroenterologists Using Non-Participating Anesthesiologists: In-Office and Ambulatory
  • In-Network Exceptions for Breast Reconstruction Surgery Following Mastectomy
  • Participating Surgeons Using Non-Participating Providers for Intraoperative Neuro-Monitoring (IONM) Protocol
  • Participating Providers Using Non-Participating Laboratory and Pathology Providers Protocol
  • Participating Surgeons Using Non-Participating Assistant Surgeons and Co-Surgeons Protocol

Hospital services, admissions and inpatient and outpatient procedures

Facilities are responsible for providing admission notification for all of the following types of inpatient admissions, even if advance notification was provided by the physician and coverage approval is on file:

  • Planned/elective admissions for acute care
  • Unplanned admissions for acute care (admission notification only)
  • SNF admissions
  • Admissions following outpatient surgery and observation
  • Newborns admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and who remain hospitalized after the mother is discharged
  • The facility must confirm a pre-service approval is on file for services requiring prior authorization

Health care providers and ancillary providers are responsible for obtaining prior authorization for outpatient surgical and major diagnostic testing performed in an outpatient clinic or any ambulatory or freestanding surgical or diagnostic facility. 

Concurrent review: clinical information

Upon admission, Clinical Services will accept concurrent review information provided by the admitting health care provider or other health care professional and/or the hospital’s Utilization Review department. The hospital must also provide us with the discharge plan on or before the discharge date. If a member requires an extended length of stay or more consultations, call our Clinical Services department at 1-800-666-1353 for prior authorization instructions.

  • For mental health/substance use, direct calls related to inpatient prior authorization to 1-800-201-6991.
  • You must cooperate with all requests for information, documents or discussions for purposes of concurrent review and discharge. When available, provide clinical information using electronic medical records (EMR).
  • You must cooperate with all requests from the interdisciplinary care coordination team and/or medical director to engage our members directly face-to-face or by phone.
  • You must return/respond to inquiries from our interdisciplinary care coordination team and/or medical director. You must provide complete clinical information and/or documents as required within 4 hours if you receive our request before 1 p.m. ET. You must make best efforts to provide requested information within the same business day if you receive the request after 1 p.m. ET (but no later than 12 p.m. ET the next business day).
  • Oxford uses InterQual Care Guidelines, which are nationally recognized clinical guidelines, to help clinicians make informed decisions in many health care settings.

Inpatient maternity stay and subsequent home nursing

Oxford follows federal mandates regarding the length of an inpatient maternity stay and the coverage of subsequent home nursing visits. Home nursing visit regulations vary by state as outlined below.

Inpatient maternity length of stay

Oxford will cover inpatient maternity stays for both mother and newborn as follows:

  • 48 hours following a vaginal delivery
  • 96 hours following a cesarean delivery

Post-discharge home nursing visits

  • Connecticut: Oxford will approve 2 home nursing visits if both mother and newborn are discharged before the mandated length of stay described above.
  • New Jersey and New York plans: Oxford will approve 1 home nursing visit if both mother and newborn are discharged before the mandated length of stay described above.

Newborn coverage varies by benefit plan and state. For more details, refer to > Menu > Eligibility and Benefits.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) level of care

We base NICU bed levels on the intensity of services and identifiable interventions received by the neonate. NICU bed levels are linked to revenue codes defined by the National Uniform Billing Committee. Based on our medical necessity review, we assign a bed day level for those facilities contracted with more than one level of NICU. Claims are reimbursed based on what has been authorized per a medical necessity review of the NICU bed day per the facility contract.

Hospital responsibilities

The hospital is required to notify us of:

  • Newborns admitted to NICU and who remain hospitalized after the mother is discharged.
  • Concurrent inpatient stays (notification before discharge).
  • Any member who changes level of care. The member must be enrolled and effective with us on the date the services are rendered. But, if CMS or an employer or group retroactively disenrolls the member up to 90 days following the dates of service, we may deny or reverse the claim.

The hospital must also:

  • Provide daily inpatient census log by 10 a.m. ET, including all admits and discharges through midnight the day prior.
  • Provide notification of all admissions of our members at the time of, or before, admission. The hospital must notify us of all emergencies (upon admission or on the day of admission), and of “rollovers” (i.e., any member who is admitted immediately upon receiving a preauthorized outpatient service).
  • Provide notification for any transfer admissions of members before the transfer unless the transfer is due to life-threatening medical emergency.
  • Communicate necessary clinical information daily, or as requested by our case manager.

If the hospital does not provide the necessary clinical information, we may deny the day for medical necessity. We give reconsideration only if we receive clinical information within 48 hours (72 hours for New Jersey facilities).

If we conduct onsite utilization review, the hospital will provide our onsite utilization management personnel reasonable workspace and access to the hospital, including access to members and their medical records. All health care providers must deliver letters of non-coverage to the member before discharge. This includes hospitals, acute rehabilitation, SNFs and home care.

We consider appeals if the hospital can show that the necessary clinical information was provided within 48 hours, but we failed to respond in a timely manner.

Retrospective review of inpatient stays (notification of admission after discharge)

If we request it, the hospital will provide the necessary clinical information to perform a medical necessity review within 45 days of discharge. If the hospital does not provide the necessary clinical information, we may deny the day for medical necessity. We give reconsideration only if clinical information is received within 48 hours (72 hours for New Jersey members).

Our responsibilities for inpatient notifications

  • We will maintain a system for verifying member eligibility/status and use reasonable efforts to transmit a decision regarding an emergency/urgent admission to the hospital.
  • We will request any necessary clinical information. If we do not ask for such information, the day’s services will be our liability.
  • We agree to provide concurrent and prospective reviews for all services.
  • We will assign a first day of review (FDOR) for all elective inpatient services, and we will certify all days up to and including the FDOR.
  • We will notify the hospital and attending health care provider or other health care professional verbally and in writing of all denied days.
  • We will perform clinical review of days that fall on the weekends and holidays for which we or the facility is closed, and days upon which there are unforeseen interruptions in business on the following business day. Such reviews will be considered concurrent.
  • We will not deny services retrospectively or reduce the level of payment for services that have been preauthorized or received concurrent review approval unless:
    • The member is retroactively disenrolled.
    • The certification or concurrent review approval was based on materially erroneous information.
    • The services are not provided in accordance with the proposed plan of care.
    • Hospital delays in providing an approved service to prolong the length of stay beyond what was approved.

Mental health, substance use and detoxification treatment

Inpatient care

All inpatient mental health/substance use treatment requires prior authorization.

Partial hospitalization

Partial hospitalization always requires certification through the behavioral health department. If clinical criteria are met, the case manager facilitates certification and management at a contracted facility with a partial hospitalization program. The case manager continues to follow the member’s treatment while they are in the program.

Prior authorization outpatient mental health services (New York)

Covered services are those received on an outpatient basis from duly licensed psychiatrists or practicing psychologists, certified social workers, or a facility-issued operating certificate by the commissioner of mental health, a facility operated by the Office of Mental Health, a professional corporation or university faculty practice corporation. This includes:

  • Diagnosis.
  • Treatment planning.
  • Referral services.
  • Medication management.
  • Crisis intervention.

We provide coverage to the maximum number of visits shown on the member’s Summary of Benefits.

Inpatient mental health services (New York)

Members receive covered services on an inpatient or partial hospitalization basis in a facility as defined by subdivision 10 of section 1.03 of the Mental Hygiene Law, as well as by any other network provider we deem appropriate to provide the medically necessary care.

We cover a required inpatient stay as a semi-private room. If we authorize partial hospitalization, 2 partial hospitalization visits may be substituted for 1 inpatient day. We provide coverage for active treatment to the maximum number of days shown on the member’s Summary of Benefits.

Visits for biologically based services will apply to this limit. Active treatment means treatment furnished together with inpatient confinement for mental, nervous or emotional disorders, or ailments that meet standards prescribed within the regulations of the commissioner of mental health.

Laboratory policies and procedures

Ancillary services

Our network of laboratory service providers consists of an extensive selection of walk-in patient service centers; many local, regional and national laboratories.

Participating vs. non-participating laboratory provider referrals

Refer our members to participating service centers and laboratories to help them avoid unnecessary costs. Referrals are not required. Only a health care provider’s prescription or lab order form is required.

We review laboratory ordering information periodically. If our data shows a pattern of out-of-network utilization for your practice, we contact you to share this information and engage you to use the contracted network.

Participating provider laboratory and pathology protocol (New York)

You must follow specific guidelines when you are recommending the use of, making a referral to, or involving a non-participating laboratory or pathologist in a member’s care.

For additional details and/or to get a copy of the Laboratory & Pathology Services Consent Form, refer to the Participating Providers Using Non-Participating Laboratory and Pathology Providers Protocol policy at > For Commercial Plans > UnitedHealthcare® Oxford Clinical, Administrative and Reimbursement Policies.

In-office laboratory testing and procedures list

The in-office laboratory testing and procedure list outlines the laboratory procedural/testing codes we reimburse to network providers when performed in the office setting. For the most up-to-date list, refer to the In-Office Laboratory Testing and Procedures List at > For Commercial Plans > UnitedHealthcare® Oxford Clinical, Administrative and Reimbursement Policies. One of our network laboratories must perform laboratory procedures/tests not appearing on this list. See the How to Contact Oxford Commercial section for contact information.

Specimen Handling and Venipuncture

Your prescription or lab order form is required when using participating laboratories to process specimen. If you bill specimen handling and venipuncture codes along with a lab code on the In-Office Laboratory Testing and Procedures List, we only reimburse the lab and venipuncture codes.

If you bill specimen handling and venipuncture codes without a lab code on our In-Office Laboratory Testing and Procedures List or with other non-laboratory services, we reimburse the specimen handling and venipuncture codes per our fee schedule.