Our UM represents a combination of different disciplines, including utilization review with benefit and eligibility requirements, effective and appropriate delivery of medically necessary services, quality of care across the continuum, discharge planning and case management.
Our Clinical Services department monitors services provided to members to identify potential areas of over and underutilization. UM decision-making is based only on appropriateness of care and service and the existence of coverage. We do not specifically reward or offer incentives to practitioners or other individuals for issuing denials of coverage or service care. Financial incentives for UM decision-makers do not encourage decisions that result in underutilization.
We have adopted the InterQual Care Guidelines and criteria for inpatient and ambulatory care where no specific Oxford policy exists. We also develop specific policies related to covered services. Each policy describes the service and its appropriate utilization.
We employ several means to review the consistency and quality of clinical decision-making as directed through policies and adopted guidelines. The following processes are in addition to those required by regulatory agencies and NCQA:
We employ a process for adopting and updating clinical practice guidelines for use by network providers and other health care professionals. Clinical practice guidelines help practitioners and members make decisions about health care in specific clinical situations. We develop guidelines for preventive screening, acute and chronic care, and appropriate drug usage based on:
Clinical practice guidelines are available on uhcprovider.com/policies > Clinical Guidelines.
Oxford may perform clinical reviews for various reasons, including but not limited to, medical necessity determinations, member eligibility, and to validate accuracy of coding for services or procedures requested or rendered by participating or non-participating health care providers and other qualified health care professionals. We consider medically necessary services for reimbursement when rendered to eligible members, as reflected in the clinical information, provided the services are not fraudulent or abusive.
Oxford may review clinical information on an entire population of, or a subset of, health care providers, procedures or members, at our discretion. We may review this information prospectively, concurrently and/or retrospectively. We define clinical information as the member’s clinical condition, which may include symptoms, treatments, dosage and duration of drugs, and dates for other therapies. Dates of prior imaging studies performed and other information the ordering health care provider believes is useful in evaluating whether the service ordered meets current evidence-based clinical guidelines, such as prior diagnostic tests and consultation reports, should be provided.
Clinical information reviewed prospectively may be reviewed again concurrently or retrospectively to confirm the accuracy of the information available at the time of previous review. Oxford will retrospectively deny an approval only in circumstances indicated in the approval or in circumstances involving fraud, abuse or material misrepresentation.
The procedure and information required for review will depend on the circumstances of interest, as determined by Oxford.
The process of selecting services for review, requests for clinical information concerning such services, review of clinical information, and action based on clinical information complies with all relevant federal and state regulations, laws, and provisions in your contract with Oxford. We provide information on appeal rights for adverse determinations as required by law and regulation.
All adverse utilization review (UR) determinations (whether initial or on appeal) are made by a clinical peer reviewer. Appeals of adverse UR determinations will be reviewed by a different clinical peer reviewer than the clinical peer reviewer who rendered the initial adverse determination.
Initial Utilization Review Determination Time Periods
We make UR decisions by the following methods and in the following time frames:
Prior Authorization - We make UR decisions and provide notice to you and the member, by phone and in writing, within 3 business days of receipt of necessary information.
Concurrent review - We make UR decisions and provide notice to the member or their designee by phone and writing within 1 business day of receipt of necessary information
Retrospective - We will make UR decisions within 30 days of receipt of necessary information. We may reverse a preauthorized treatment, service or procedure on retrospective review when all the following circumstances occur:
Failure to make an initial UR determination within the time periods described is deemed to be an adverse determination eligible for appeal.
Components of an initial adverse determination
If the review results in an adverse determination, the initial adverse determination letter includes the following:
Member appeals must be submitted to us or our delegate within 180 days from the receipt of the initial adverse UR determination. Standard (non-expedited) UR appeals may be filed by telephone or in writing by the member or their designee. Member appeals may be initiated in writing or by calling our Member Service department at the number on the member’s ID card or at 1-800-444-6222. However, we strongly recommend the appeal be filed in writing. Determinations concerning services that have already been provided are not eligible to be appealed on an expedited basis. In the event that only a portion of such necessary information is received, we request the missing information, in writing, within 5 business days of receipt of partial information. If a determination is not made within 15 days of the filing of the appeal, we provide written acknowledgment to the appealing party within 15 days of the filing of a standard appeal.
Expedited UR appeals
An expedited UR appeal may be filed for denials of:
We make a decision on expedited UR appeals within 2 business days of receipt of the information necessary to conduct such appeal. If we require more information to conduct an expedited appeal, we immediately notify the member and their health care provider by phone or fax to identify and request the necessary information. We follow up with a written notification. The appealing party may re-appeal an expedited appeal using the standard appeal process or through the external appeal process.
We allow you to submit an expedited member appeal without a member’s written consent. All other appeals require the member’s explicit written consent to appeal after our initial UR decision is made. A general assignment will not be accepted.
If we do not make a determination within 60 calendar days of receipt of the necessary information for a standard appeal or within 2 business days of receipt of necessary information for an expedited appeal, we consider the initial adverse UR determination to be reversed.
The law allows the member and UnitedHealthcare to jointly agree to waive the internal UR appeal process. Typically, we do not agree to this. In those rare situations where we are willing to waive the internal UR appeal, we inform the appeal requester and/ or member verbally and/or in writing. If the member agrees to waive the internal UR appeal process, we provide them with a letter within 24 hours of the Agreement with information on filing an external appeal.
Retrospective review appeals (New York provider appeals)
A retrospective adverse determination is one where the initial medical necessity review is requested or initiated after the services have been rendered. This process does not apply to services where precertification or concurrent review is required. You may request an external appeal on your own behalf, by phone or in writing, when we have made a retrospective final adverse determination on the basis that the service or treatment is not medically necessary or is considered experimental or investigational (or is an approved clinical trial) to treat the member’s life-threatening or disabling condition (as defined by the New York State Social Security Law).
All requests for such internal retrospective appeals must be made within 60 days of receipt of the initial retrospective medical necessity or experimental/investigational determination. If we require more information to conduct a standard internal appeal, we notify the member and their health care provider, in writing, within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, to identify and request necessary information.
Once we make a decision about the retrospective review appeal, we notify the member and their health care provider in writing within 2 business days from the date we make the decision.
If the decision is adverse, and you continue to dispute our decision, you may be eligible for an external appeal through the New York external appeal process. Hospitals and other facilities may have alternate dispute mechanisms in place for review of these issues instead of external appeal. Check your contract for more information.
Internal retrospective appeals submitted after the 60-day time frame is not handled through this process. If your appeal is still submitted within the contractual deadlines for an appeal, we automatically handle it through the contractual appeal process discussed in the next section.
Medical necessity internal appeals process for health care providers under your contract
If we make a decision that a requested service is not medically necessary, you may dispute our determination. Mail a written request, with supporting clinical documentation showing why we should reverse the denial of services, to:
Oxford Clinical Appeals Department
P.O. Box 29139
Hot Springs, AR 71903
The Clinical Appeals department makes a reasonable effort to render a decision within 60 calendar days of receiving the appeal and supporting documentation. If the contractual appeal decision is adverse, and you continue to dispute the decision, the dispute may be eligible for arbitration under your contract.
Note: There is a separate appeal process for internal member appeals and retrospective provider appeals under New York law. These processes do not apply to contractual appeals.
Appeals not submitted within the contractual time frames are denied.
Utilization review appeals
UR occurs whenever judgments pertaining to medical necessity and the provision of services or treatments are rendered. The UR appeals process should be used after you receive an initial adverse UR determination and you do not agree with our decision. All appeals are subject to a review by us to evaluate the medical necessity of the services. You may use this process to appeal adverse determinations relating to all UR determinations, regardless of whether the services requested by you or your authorized representative have not yet been rendered (pre-service), are currently being rendered (concurrent) or have already been rendered (post-service).
Note: This UR appeals process should not be used for appeals relating to benefit, network or administrative issues.
UR appeals must be initiated within 180 days from receipt of an adverse determination (i.e., receipt of the determination notice). A decision may be rendered within the standard time frames or may be expedited as described in this section.
While a UR appeal may be filed by telephone or in writing, we strongly recommend you file your appeal in writing. The written request will give us a clear understanding of the issues being appealed. In addition to your request for an appeal, you or your authorized representative must send documentation/information already requested by us (if not previously submitted) and additional written comments and documentation/information you would like to submit in support of the appeal. At the time of our review, we will review all available comments, documentation and information.
Unless we already issued a written determination, we use our best efforts to provide written acknowledgment of the receipt of your appeal within 5 business days but not later than 15 calendar days. Our decision to either uphold or reverse the adverse determination is made and communicated to you as follows:
If we do not follow the process outlined in this section, you will have been deemed to have exhausted the internal appeals process. You may then file a request for an external review (see the following section), regardless of whether we can assert substantial compliance or de minimis error.
This will be our final adverse determination. If you are not satisfied with our decision, you have the option of filing an External Appeal. Refer to the External Appeals section below.
You can expedite your UR appeal when:
You have 2 available options for expedited reviews. These options are not available for health care services that have already been rendered (post-service).
1. Internal Expedited UR Appeal: This process includes procedures to facilitate a timely resolution of the appeal including, but not limited to, the sharing of information between your health care provider and us by telephone or fax. We provide reasonable access to our clinical peer reviewer within 1 business day of receiving notice of an expedited UR appeal.
A decision is rendered and communicated for an internal expedited UR appeal within the following time frames:
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the expedited UR appeal, you may further appeal through the external appeal process. If we do not make a determination within 72 hours of receipt of the necessary information, the adverse determination is reversed.
The notice of an appeal determination includes reasons for the determination. If the adverse determination is upheld on appeal, the notice will include the specific reason(s) and clinical rationale used to render the determination, a reference to the specific health benefit plan provisions on which the decision is based, a statement you may receive from us (upon request and free of charge) and reasonable access to and copies of all relevant documents. We also include a notice of your right to initiate an external appeal. A description of each process and associated time frames is included.
If we do not follow the process outlined in this section, you will have been deemed to have exhausted the internal appeals process. You may then file a request for an external review (see the following option), regardless of whether we can assert substantial compliance or de minimis error.
2. External Expedited Appeal: You have the option to seek review by an independent review organization in emergency or life-threatening circumstances. You may make a request to the Commissioner of Insurance for an expedited external appeal without first completing the internal appeals process if:
If you choose this option, you must submit the appeal by contacting:
Connecticut Insurance Department
P.O. Box 816
Hartford, CT 06142-0816
For more information on how to file an expedited external appeal, refer to External UR Appeals below.
The contents of a FAD vary based on the state in which the member’s certificate of coverage was issued. Each notice of FAD is in writing, dated and includes the following:
If the adverse determination is based on:
If Oxford fails to adhere to these requirements for rendering decisions, the following rules apply to members enrolled in Connecticut and New Jersey products.
Connecticut: The member is deemed to have exhausted Oxford’s internal appeals process and may file an external review, even if Oxford could prove substantial compliance or minor (de minimis) error.
New Jersey: Members are not obligated to complete the internal review process and may proceed directly to the external review process under the following circumstances:
In such a case where Oxford asserts good cause for not meeting the deadlines of the appeals process, members or their designee and/or their health care provider may request a written explanation of the violation. Oxford must provide the explanation within 10 days of the request and must include a specific description of the basis for which we determine the violation should not cause the internal appeals process to be exhausted. If an external reviewer or court agrees with Oxford and rejects the request for immediate review, the member has the opportunity to resubmit their appeal.
The member has a right to an external appeal of a FAD.
A FAD is a first-level appeal denial of an otherwise covered service where the basis for the decision is either a lack of medical necessity, appropriateness, health care setting, level of care or effectiveness or the experimental/investigational exclusion.
The care provider’s certification must include a statement of the evidence relied upon by the care provider in certifying their recommendation, and an external appeal must be submitted within 45 days upon receipt of the FAD, whether a second-level appeal is requested or not. If a member chooses to request a second-level internal appeal, the time may expire for the member to request an external appeal.
An external appeal may also be filed:
External appeal process
If the Clinical Appeals department upholds all or part of such an adverse determination, the member or their designee has the right to request an external appeal. An external appeal may be filed when:
All external appeal requests may be sent to the following:
New York State Insurance Department
P.O. Box 7209
Albany, NY 12224-0209