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Chapter 9 - What to do if you have a problem or complaint (coverage decisions, appeals, complaints)


Chapter 9 - What to do if you have a problem or complaint (coverage decisions, appeals, complaints)




Section 1.1 - What to do if you have a problem or concern

This chapter explains two types of processes for handling problems and concerns:

  • For some types of problems, you need to use the process for coverage decisions and appeals.
  • For other types of problems, you need to use the process for making complaints.

Both of these processes have been approved by Medicare. To ensure fairness and prompt handling of your problems, each process has a set of rules, procedures, and deadlines that must be followed by us and by you.

Which one do you use? That depends on the type of problem you are having. The guide in Section 3 will help you identify the right process to use.


Section 1.2 - What about the legal terms?

There are technical legal terms for some of the rules, procedures, and types of deadlines explained in this chapter. Many of these terms are unfamiliar to most people and can be hard to understand.

To keep things simple, this chapter explains the legal rules and procedures using simpler words in place of certain legal terms. For example, this chapter generally says "making a complaint" rather than "filing a grievance," "coverage decision" rather than "organization determination," or "coverage determination" or "at-risk determination," and "Independent Review Organization" instead of "Independent Review Entity." It also uses abbreviations as little as possible.

However, it can be helpful – and sometimes quite important – for you to know the correct legal terms for the situation you are in. Knowing which terms to use will help you communicate more clearly and accurately when you are dealing with your problem and get the right help or information for your situation. To help you know which terms to use, we include legal terms when we give the details for handling specific types of situations.


Section 2.1 - Where to get more information and personalized assistance

Sometimes it can be confusing to start or follow through the process for dealing with a problem. This can be especially true if you do not feel well or have limited energy. Other times, you may not have the knowledge you need to take the next step.

Get help from an independent government organization

We are always available to help you. But in some situations you may also want help or guidance from someone who is not connected with us. You can always contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). This government program has trained counselors in every state. The program is not connected with us or with any insurance company or health plan. The counselors at this program can help you understand which process you should use to handle a problem you are having. They can also answer your questions, give you more information, and offer guidance on what to do.

The services of SHIP counselors are free. You will find phone numbers in Chapter 2, Section 3 of this booklet.

You can also get help and information from Medicare

For more information and help in handling a problem, you can also contact Medicare. Here are two ways to get information directly from Medicare:

  • You can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Section 3.1 - Should you use the process for coverage decisions and appeals? Or should you use the process for making complaints?

If you have a problem or concern, you only need to read the parts of this chapter that apply to your situation. The guide that follows will help.

To figure out which part of this chapter will help with your specific problem or concern,
START HERE

    Is your problem or concern about your benefits or coverage?

    (This includes problems about whether particular medical care or prescription drugs are covered or not, the way in which they are covered, and problems related to payment for medical care or prescription drugs.)

      Yes. My problem is about benefits or coverage.

        Go on to the next section of this chapter, Section 4, "A guide to the basics of coverage decisions and appeals."

      No. My problem is not about benefits or coverage.

        Skip ahead to Section 10 at the end of this chapter: "How to make a complaint about quality of care, waiting times, customer service or other concerns."


Section 4.1 - Asking for coverage decisions and making appeals: the big picture

The process for coverage decisions and appeals deals with problems related to your benefits and coverage for medical services and prescription drugs, including problems related to payment. This is the process you use for issues such as whether something is covered or not and the way in which something is covered.


Asking for coverage decisions

A coverage decision is a decision we make about your benefits and coverage or about the amount we will pay for your medical services or drugs. For example, your plan network doctor makes a (favorable) coverage decision for you whenever you receive medical care from him or her or if your network doctor refers you to a medical specialist. You or your doctor can also contact us and ask for a coverage decision if your doctor is unsure whether we will cover a particular medical service or refuses to provide medical care you think that you need. In other words, if you want to know if we will cover a medical service before you receive it, you can ask us to make a coverage decision for you.

We are making a coverage decision for you whenever we decide what is covered for you and how much we pay. In some cases we might decide a service or drug is not covered or is no longer covered by Medicare for you. If you disagree with this coverage decision, you can make an appeal.

Making an appeal

If we make a coverage decision and you are not satisfied with this decision, you can "appeal" the decision. An appeal is a formal way of asking us to review and change a coverage decision we have made.

When you appeal a decision for the first time, this is called a Level 1 Appeal. In this appeal, we review the coverage decision we made to check to see if we were following all of the rules properly. Your appeal is handled by different reviewers than those who made the original unfavorable decision. When we have completed the review we give you our decision. Under certain circumstances, which we discuss later, you can request an expedited or "fast coverage decision" or fast appeal of a coverage decision.

If we say no to all or part of your Level 1 Appeal, you can go on to a Level 2 Appeal. The Level 2 Appeal is conducted by an independent organization that is not connected to us. (In some situations, your case will be automatically sent to the independent organization for a Level 2 Appeal. If this happens, we will let you know. In other situations, you will need to ask for a Level 2 Appeal.) If you are not satisfied with the decision at the Level 2 Appeal, you may be able to continue through additional levels of appeal.


Section 4.2 - How to get help when you are asking for a coverage decision or making an appeal

Would you like some help? Here are resources you may wish to use if you decide to ask for any kind of coverage decision or appeal a decision:

  • You can call us at Member Services (phone numbers are printed on the back cover of this booklet).
  • To get free help from an independent organization that is not connected with our plan, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (see Section 2 of this chapter).
  • Your doctor can make a request for you.

    • For medical care, your doctor can request a coverage decision or a Level 1 Appeal on your behalf. If your appeal is denied at Level 1, it will be automatically forwarded to Level 2. To request any appeal after Level 2, your doctor must be appointed as your representative.

    • For Part D prescription drugs, your doctor or other prescriber can request a coverage decision or a Level 1 or Level 2 Appeal on your behalf. To request any appeal after Level 2, your doctor or other prescriber must be appointed as your representative.
  • You can ask someone to act on your behalf. If you want to, you can name another person to act for you as your "representative" to ask for a coverage decision or make an appeal.

    • There may be someone who is already legally authorized to act as your representative under State law.

    • If you want a friend, relative, your doctor or other provider, or other person to be your representative, call Member Services (phone numbers are printed on the back cover of this booklet) and ask for the "Appointment of Representative" form. (The form is also available on Medicare’s website at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/downloads/cms1696.pdf.) The form gives that person permission to act on your behalf. It must be signed by you and by the person who you would like to act on your behalf. You must give us a copy of the signed form.
  • You also have the right to hire a lawyer to act for you. You may contact your own lawyer, or get the name of a lawyer from your local bar association or other referral service. There are also groups that will give you free legal services if you qualify. However, you are not required to hire a lawyer to ask for any kind of coverage decision or appeal a decision.

Section 4.3 - Which section of this chapter gives the details for your situation?

There are four different types of situations that involve coverage decisions and appeals. Since each situation has different rules and deadlines, we give the details for each one in a separate section:

  • Section 5 of this chapter: "Your medical care: How to ask for a coverage decision or make an appeal"
  • Section 6 of this chapter: "Your Part D prescription drugs: How to ask for a coverage decision or make an appeal"
  • Section 7 of this chapter: "How to ask us to cover a longer inpatient hospital stay if you think the doctor is discharging you too soon"
  • Section 8 of this chapter: "How to ask us to keep covering certain medical services if you think your coverage is ending too soon" (Applies to these services only: home health care, skilled nursing facility care, and Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF) services)

If you’re not sure which section you should be using, please call Member Services (phone numbers are printed on the back cover of this booklet). You can also get help or information from government organizations such as your SHIP (Chapter 2, Section 3, of this booklet has the phone numbers for this program).

question mark

    Have you read Section 4 of this chapter (A guide to "the basics" of coverage decisions and appeals)? If not, you may want to read it before you start this section.


Section 5.1 - This section tells what to do if you have problems getting coverage for medical care or if you want us to pay you back for our share of the cost of your care

This section is about your benefits for medical care and services. These benefits are described in Chapter 4 of this booklet: Medical Benefits Chart (what is covered and what you pay). To keep things simple, we generally refer to "medical care coverage" or "medical care" in the rest of this section, instead of repeating "medical care or treatment or services" every time.

This section tells what you can do if you are in any of the five following situations:

  1. You are not getting certain medical care you want, and you believe that this care is covered by our plan.
  1. Our plan will not approve the medical care your doctor or other medical provider wants to give you, and you believe that this care is covered by the plan.
  1. You have received medical care or services that you believe should be covered by the plan, but we have said we will not pay for this care.
  1. You have received and paid for medical care or services that you believe should be covered by the plan, and you want to ask our plan to reimburse you for this care.
  1. You are being told that coverage for certain medical care you have been getting that we previously approved will be reduced or stopped, and you believe that reducing or stopping this care could harm your health.

    NOTE: If the coverage that will be stopped is for hospital care, home health care, skilled nursing facility care, or Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF) services, you need to read a separate section of this chapter because special rules apply to these types of care. Here’s what to read in those situations:

    • Chapter 9, Section 7: How to ask us to cover a longer inpatient hospital stay if you think the doctor is discharging you too soon.

    • Chapter 9, Section 8: How to ask us to keep covering certain medical services if you think your coverage is ending too soon. This section is about three services only: home health care, skilled nursing facility care, and CORF services.

    For all other situations that involve being told that medical care you have been getting will be stopped, use this section (Section 5) as your guide for what to do.



Which of these situations are you in?

If you are in this situation: This is what you can do:
Do you want to find out whether we will cover the medical care or services you want? You can ask us to make a coverage decision for you.
Go to the next section of this chapter, Section 5.2.
Have we already told you that we will not cover or pay for a medical service in the way that you want it to be covered or paid for? You can make an appeal. (This means you are asking us to reconsider.) Skip ahead to Section 5.3 of this chapter.
Do you want to ask us to pay you back for medical care or services you have already received and paid for? You can send us the bill. Skip ahead to Section 5.5 of this chapter.

Section 5.2 - Step-by-step: How to ask for a coverage decision (how to ask our plan to authorize or provide the medical care coverage you want)
Legal Terms
When a coverage decision involves your medical care, it is called an "organization determination."




Step 1: You ask our plan to make a coverage decision on the medical care you are requesting. If your health requires a quick response, you should ask us to make a "fast coverage decision."

Legal Terms
A "fast coverage decision" is called an "expedited determination."





How to request coverage for the medical care you want

  • Start by calling, writing, or faxing our plan to make your request for us to authorize or provide coverage for the medical care you want. You, your doctor, or your representative can do this.
  • For the details on how to contact us, go to Chapter 2, Section 1 and look for the section called, How to contact us when you are asking for a coverage decision about your medical care.

Generally we use the standard deadlines for giving you our decision

When we give you our decision, we will use the "standard" deadlines unless we have agreed to use the "fast" deadlines. A standard coverage decision means we will give you an answer within 14 calendar days after we receive your request.

  • However, we can take up to 14 more calendar days if you ask for more time, or if we need information (such as medical records from out-of-network providers) that may benefit you. If we decide to take extra days to make the decision, we will tell you in writing.
  • If you believe we should not take extra days, you can file a "fast complaint" about our decision to take extra days. When you file a fast complaint, we will give you an answer to your complaint within 24 hours. (The process for making a complaint is different from the process for coverage decisions and appeals. For more information about the process for making complaints, including fast complaints, see Section 10 of this chapter.)

If your health requires it, ask us to give you a "fast coverage decision"

  • A fast coverage decision means we will answer within 72 hours.

    • However, we can take up to 14 more calendar days if we find that some information that may benefit you is missing (such as medical records from out-of-network providers), or if you need time to get information to us for the review. If we decide to take extra days, we will tell you in writing.

    • If you believe we should not take extra days, you can file a "fast complaint" about our decision to take extra days. (For more information about the process for making complaints, including fast complaints, see Section 10 of this chapter.) We will call you as soon as we make the decision.
  • To get a fast coverage decision, you must meet two requirements:

    • You can get a fast coverage decision only if you are asking for coverage for medical care you have not yet received. (You cannot get a fast coverage decision if your request is about payment for medical care you have already received.)

    • You can get a fast coverage decision only if using the standard deadlines could cause serious harm to your health or hurt your ability to function.
  • If your doctor tells us that your health requires a "fast coverage decision," we will automatically agree to give you a fast coverage decision.
  • If you ask for a fast coverage decision on your own, without your doctor’s support, we will decide whether your health requires that we give you a fast coverage decision.

    • If we decide that your medical condition does not meet the requirements for a fast coverage decision, we will send you a letter that says so (and we will use the standard deadlines instead).

    • This letter will tell you that if your doctor asks for the fast coverage decision, we will automatically give a fast coverage decision.

    • The letter will also tell how you can file a "fast complaint" about our decision to give you a standard coverage decision instead of the fast coverage decision you requested. (For more information about the process for making complaints, including fast complaints, see Section 10 of this chapter.)

Step 2: We consider your request for medical care coverage and give you our answer.

Deadlines for a "fast coverage decision"

  • Generally, for a fast coverage decision, we will give you our answer within 72 hours.

    • As explained above, we can take up to 14 more calendar days under certain circumstances. If we decide to take extra days to make the coverage decision, we will tell you in writing.

    • If you believe we should not take extra days, you can file a "fast complaint" about our decision to take extra days. When you file a fast complaint, we will give you an answer to your complaint within 24 hours. (For more information about the process for making complaints, including fast complaints, see Section 10 of this chapter.)

    • If we do not give you our answer within 72 hours (or if there is an extended time period, by the end of that period), you have the right to appeal. Section 5.3 below tells how to make an appeal.
  • If our answer is yes to part or all of what you requested, we must authorize or provide the medical care coverage we have agreed to provide within 72 hours after we received your request. If we extended the time needed to make our coverage decision, we will authorize or provide the coverage by the end of that extended period.
  • If our answer is no to part or all of what you requested, we will send you a detailed written explanation as to why we said no.

Deadlines for a "standard coverage decision"

  • Generally, for a standard coverage decision, we will give you our answer within 14 calendar days of receiving your request.

    • We can take up to 14 more calendar days ("an extended time period") under certain circumstances. If we decide to take extra days to make the coverage decision, we will tell you in writing.

    • If you believe we should not take extra days, you can file a "fast complaint" about our decision to take extra days. When you file a fast complaint, we will give you an answer to your complaint within 24 hours. (For more information about the process for making complaints, including fast complaints, see Section 10 of this chapter.)

    • If we do not give you our answer within 14 calendar days (or if there is an extended time period, by the end of that period), you have the right to appeal. Section 5.3 below tells how to make an appeal.
  • If our answer is yes to part or all of what you requested, we must authorize or provide the coverage we have agreed to provide within 14 calendar days after we received your request. If we extended the time needed to make our coverage decision, we will authorize or provide the coverage by the end of that extended period.
  • If our answer is no to part or all of what you requested, we will send you a written statement that explains why we said no.

Step 3: If we say no to your request for coverage for medical care, you decide if you want to make an appeal.

  • If we say no, you have the right to ask us to reconsider – and perhaps change – this decision by making an appeal. Making an appeal means making another try to get the medical care coverage you want.
  • If you decide to make an appeal, it means you are going on to Level 1 of the appeals process (see Section 5.3 below).

Section 5.3 - Step-by-step: How to make a Level 1 Appeal (how to ask for a review of a medical care coverage decision made by our plan)
Legal Terms
An appeal to the plan about a medical care coverage decision is called a plan "reconsideration."




Step 1: You contact us and make your appeal. If your health requires a quick response, you must ask for a "fast appeal."

What to do

  • To start an appeal you, your doctor, or your representative, must contact us. For details on how to reach us for any purpose related to your appeal, go to Chapter 2, Section 1 and look for the section called, How to contact us when you are making an appeal about your medical care.
  • If you are asking for a standard appeal, make your standard appeal in writing by submitting a request.

    • If you have someone appealing our decision for you other than your doctor, your appeal must include an Appointment of Representative form authorizing this person to represent you. To get the form, call Member Services (phone numbers are printed on the back cover of this booklet) and ask for the "Appointment of Representative" form. It is also available on Medicare’s website at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/downloads/cms1696.pdf. While we can accept an appeal request without the form, we cannot begin or complete our review until we receive it. If we do not receive the form within 44 calendar days after receiving your appeal request (our deadline for making a decision on your appeal), your appeal request will be dismissed. If this happens, we will send you a written notice explaining your right to ask the Independent Review Organization to review our decision to dismiss your appeal.
  • If you are asking for a fast appeal, make your appeal in writing or call us at the phone number shown in Chapter 2, Section 1 (How to contact us when you are making an appeal about your medical care).
  • You must make your appeal request within 60 calendar days from the date on the written notice we sent to tell you our answer to your request for a coverage decision. If you miss this deadline and have a good reason for missing it, we may give you more time to make your appeal. Examples of good cause for missing the deadline may include if you had a serious illness that prevented you from contacting us or if we provided you with incorrect or incomplete information about the deadline for requesting an appeal.
  • You can ask for a copy of the information regarding your medical decision and add more information to support your appeal.

    • You have the right to ask us for a copy of the information regarding your appeal. We are allowed to charge a fee for copying and sending this information to you.

    • If you wish, you and your doctor may give us additional information to support your appeal.

If your health requires it, ask for a "fast appeal" (you can make a request by calling us)

Legal Terms
A "fast appeal" is also called an "expedited reconsideration."




  • If you are appealing a decision we made about coverage for care you have not yet received, you and/or your doctor will need to decide if you need a "fast appeal."
  • The requirements and procedures for getting a "fast appeal" are the same as those for getting a "fast coverage decision." To ask for a fast appeal, follow the instructions for asking for a fast coverage decision. (These instructions are given earlier in this section.)
  • If your doctor tells us that your health requires a "fast appeal," we will give you a fast appeal.

Step 2: We consider your appeal and we give you our answer.

  • When our plan is reviewing your appeal, we take another careful look at all of the information about your request for coverage of medical care. We check to see if we were following all the rules when we said no to your request.
  • We will gather more information if we need it. We may contact you or your doctor to get more information.

Deadlines for a "fast appeal"

  • When we are using the fast deadlines, we must give you our answer within 72 hours after we receive your appeal. We will give you our answer sooner if your health requires us to do so.

    • However, if you ask for more time, or if we need to gather more information that may benefit you, we can take up to 14 more calendar days. If we decide to take extra days to make the decision, we will tell you in writing.

    • If we do not give you an answer within 72 hours (or by the end of the extended time period if we took extra days), we are required to automatically send your request on to Level 2 of the appeals process, where it will be reviewed by an independent organization. Later in this section, we tell you about this organization and explain what happens at Level 2 of the appeals process.
  • If our answer is yes to part or all of what you requested, we must authorize or provide the coverage we have agreed to provide within 72 hours after we receive your appeal.
  • If our answer is no to part or all of what you requested, we will automatically send your appeal to the Independent Review Organization for a Level 2 Appeal.

Deadlines for a "standard appeal"

  • If we are using the standard deadlines, we must give you our answer within 30 calendar days after we receive your appeal if your appeal is about coverage for services you have not yet received. We will give you our decision sooner if your health condition requires us to.

    • However, if you ask for more time, or if we need to gather more information that may benefit you, we can take up to 14 more calendar days. If we decide to take extra days to make the decision, we will tell you in writing.

    • If you believe we should not take extra days, you can file a "fast complaint" about our decision to take extra days. When you file a fast complaint, we will give you an answer to your complaint within 24 hours. (For more information about the process for making complaints, including fast complaints, see Section 10 of this chapter.)

    • If we do not give you an answer by the deadline above (or by the end of the extended time period if we took extra days), we are required to send your request on to Level 2 of the appeals process, where it will be reviewed by an independent outside organization. Later in this section, we talk about this review organization and explain what happens at Level 2 of the appeals process.
  • If our answer is yes to part or all of what you requested, we must authorize or provide the coverage we have agreed to provide within 30 calendar days after we receive your appeal.
  • If our answer is no to part or all of what you requested, we will automatically send your appeal to the Independent Review Organization for a Level 2 Appeal.

Step 3: If our plan says no to part or all of your appeal, your case will automatically be sent on to the next level of the appeals process.

  • To make sure we were following all the rules when we said no to your appeal, we are required to send your appeal to the "Independent Review Organization." When we do this, it means that your appeal is going on to the next level of the appeals process, which is Level 2.

Section 5.4 - Step-by-step: How a Level 2 Appeal is done

If we say no to your Level 1 Appeal, your case will automatically be sent on to the next level of the appeals process. During the Level 2 Appeal, the Independent Review Organization reviews our decision for your first appeal. This organization decides whether the decision we made should be changed.

Legal Terms
The formal name for the "Independent Review Organization" is the "Independent Review Entity." It is sometimes called the "IRE."






Step 1: The Independent Review Organization reviews your appeal.

  • The Independent Review Organization is an independent organization that is hired by Medicare. This organization is not connected with us and it is not a government agency. This organization is a company chosen by Medicare to handle the job of being the Independent Review Organization. Medicare oversees its work.
  • We will send the information about your appeal to this organization. This information is called your "case file." You have the right to ask us for a copy of your case file. We are allowed to charge you a fee for copying and sending this information to you.
  • You have a right to give the Independent Review Organization additional information to support your appeal.
  • Reviewers at the Independent Review Organization will take a careful look at all of the information related to your appeal.

If you had a "fast appeal" at Level 1, you will also have a "fast appeal" at Level 2

  • If you had a fast appeal to our plan at Level 1, you will automatically receive a fast appeal at Level 2. The review organization must give you an answer to your Level 2 Appeal within 72 hours of when it receives your appeal.
  • However, if the Independent Review Organization needs to gather more information that may benefit you, it can take up to 14 more calendar days.

If you had a "standard appeal" at Level 1, you will also have a "standard appeal" at Level 2

  • If you had a standard appeal to our plan at Level 1, you will automatically receive a standard appeal at Level 2. The review organization must give you an answer to your Level 2 Appeal within 30 calendar days of when it receives your appeal.
  • However, if the Independent Review Organization needs to gather more information that may benefit you, it can take up to 14 more calendar days.

Step 2: The Independent Review Organization gives you their answer.

The Independent Review Organization will tell you its decision in writing and explain the reasons for it.

  • If the review organization says yes to part or all of what you requested, we must authorize the medical care coverage within 72 hours or provide the service within 14 calendar days after we receive the decision from the review organization for standard requests or within 72 hours from the date the plan receives the decision from the review organization for expedited requests.
  • If this organization says no to part or all of your appeal, it means they agree with us that your request (or part of your request) for coverage for medical care should not be approved. (This is called "upholding the decision." It is also called "turning down your appeal.")

    • If the Independent Review Organization "upholds the decision" you have the right to a Level 3 Appeal. However, to make another appeal at Level 3, the dollar value of the medical care coverage you are requesting must meet a certain minimum. If the dollar value of the coverage you are requesting is too low, you cannot make another appeal, which means that the decision at Level 2 is final. The written notice you get from the Independent Review Organization will tell you how to find out the dollar amount to continue the appeals process.

Step 3: If your case meets the requirements, you choose whether you want to take your appeal further.

  • There are three additional levels in the appeals process after Level 2 (for a total of five levels of appeal).
  • If your Level 2 Appeal is turned down and you meet the requirements to continue with the appeals process, you must decide whether you want to go on to Level 3 and make a third appeal. The details on how to do this are in the written notice you got after your Level 2 Appeal.
  • The Level 3 Appeal is handled by an Administrative Law Judge or attorney adjudicator. Section 9 in this chapter tells more about Levels 3, 4, and 5 of the appeals process.

Section 5.5 - What if you are asking us to pay you for our share of a bill you have received for medical care?

If you want to ask us for payment for medical care, start by reading Chapter 7 of this booklet: Asking us to pay our share of a bill you have received for covered medical services or drugs. Chapter 7 describes the situations in which you may need to ask for reimbursement or to pay a bill you have received from a provider. It also tells how to send us the paperwork that asks us for payment.

Asking for reimbursement is asking for a coverage decision from us

If you send us the paperwork that asks for reimbursement, you are asking us to make a coverage decision (for more information about coverage decisions, see Section 4.1 of this chapter). To make this coverage decision, we will check to see if the medical care you paid for is a covered service (see Chapter 4: Medical Benefits Chart (what is covered and what you pay)). We will also check to see if you followed all the rules for using your coverage for medical care (these rules are given in Chapter 3 of this booklet: Using the plan’s coverage for your medical services).

We will say yes or no to your request

  • If the medical care you paid for is covered and you followed all the rules, we will send you the payment for our share of the cost of your medical care within 60 calendar days after we receive your request. Or, if you haven’t paid for the services, we will send the payment directly to the provider. (When we send the payment, it’s the same as saying yes to your request for a coverage decision.)
  • If the medical care is not covered, or you did not follow all the rules, we will not send payment. Instead, we will send you a letter that says we will not pay for the services and the reasons why in detail. (When we turn down your request for payment, it’s the same as saying no to your request for a coverage decision.)

What if you ask for payment and we say that we will not pay?

If you do not agree with our decision to turn you down, you can make an appeal. If you make an appeal, it means you are asking us to change the coverage decision we made when we turned down your request for payment.

To make this appeal, follow the process for appeals that we describe in Section 5.3. Go to this section for step-by-step instructions. When you are following these instructions, please note:

  • If you make an appeal for reimbursement, we must give you our answer within 60 calendar days after we receive your appeal. (If you are asking us to pay you back for medical care you have already received and paid for yourself, you are not allowed to ask for a fast appeal.)
  • If the Independent Review Organization reverses our decision to deny payment, we must send the payment you have requested to you or to the provider within 30 calendar days. If the answer to your appeal is yes at any stage of the appeals process after Level 2, we must send the payment you requested to you or to the provider within 60 calendar days.
question mark

    Have you read Section 4 of this chapter (A guide to "the basics" of coverage decisions and appeals)? If not, you may want to read it before you start this section.


Section 6.1 - This section tells you what to do if you have problems getting a Part D drug or you want us to pay you back for a Part D drug

Your benefits as a member of our plan include coverage for many prescription drugs. Please refer to our plan’s List of Covered Drugs (Formulary). To be covered, the drug must be used for a medically accepted indication. (A "medically accepted indication" is a use of the drug that is either approved by the Food and Drug Administration or supported by certain reference books. See Chapter 5, Section 3 for more information about a medically accepted indication.)

  • This section is about your Part D drugs only. To keep things simple, we generally say "drug" in the rest of this section, instead of repeating "covered outpatient prescription drug" or "Part D drug" every time.
  • For details about what we mean by Part D drugs, the List of Covered Drugs (Formulary), rules and restrictions on coverage, and cost information, see Chapter 5 (Using our plan’s coverage for your Part D prescription drugs) and Chapter 6 (What you pay for your Part D prescription drugs).

Part D coverage decisions and appeals

As discussed in Section 4 of this chapter, a coverage decision is a decision we make about your benefits and coverage or about the amount we will pay for your drugs.

Legal Terms
An initial coverage decision about your Part D drugs is called a "coverage determination."




Here are examples of coverage decisions you ask us to make about your Part D drugs:

  • You ask us to make an exception, including:

    • Asking us to cover a Part D drug that is not on the plan’s List of Covered Drugs (Formulary)

    • Asking us to waive a restriction on the plan’s coverage for a drug (such as limits on the amount of the drug you can get)

    • Asking to pay a lower cost-sharing amount for a covered drug on a higher cost-sharing tier
  • You ask us whether a drug is covered for you and whether you satisfy any applicable coverage rules. (For example, when your drug is on the plan’s List of Covered Drugs (Formulary) but we require you to get approval from us before we will cover it for you.)

    • Please note: If your pharmacy tells you that your prescription cannot be filled as written, you will get a written notice explaining how to contact us to ask for a coverage decision.
  • You ask us to pay for a prescription drug you already bought. This is a request for a coverage decision about payment.

If you disagree with a coverage decision we have made, you can appeal our decision.

This section tells you both how to ask for coverage decisions and how to request an appeal. Use the chart below to help you determine which part has information for your situation:

Which of these situations are you in?

Do you need a drug that isn’t on our Drug List or need us to waive a rule or restriction on a drug we cover? Do you want us to cover a drug on our Drug List and you believe you meet any plan rules or restrictions (such as getting approval in advance) for the drug you need? Do you want to ask us to pay you back for a drug you have already received and paid for? Have we already told you that we will not cover or pay for a drug in the way that you want it to be covered or paid for?
You can ask us to make an exception. (This is a type of coverage decision.) Start with Section 6.2 of this chapter. You can ask us for a coverage decision. Skip ahead to Section 6.4 of this chapter. You can ask us to pay you back. (This is a type of coverage decision.) Skip ahead to Section 6.4 of this chapter. You can make an appeal. (This means you are asking us to reconsider.) Skip ahead to Section 6.5 of this chapter.

Section 6.2 - What is an exception?

If a drug is not covered in the way you would like it to be covered, you can ask us to make an "exception." An exception is a type of coverage decision. Similar to other types of coverage decisions, if we turn down your request for an exception, you can appeal our decision.

When you ask for an exception, your doctor or other prescriber will need to explain the medical reasons why you need the exception approved. We will then consider your request. Here are three examples of exceptions that you or your doctor or other prescriber can ask us to make:

  1. Covering a Part D drug for you that is not on our List of Covered Drugs (Formulary).
    (We call it the "Drug List" for short.)
Legal Terms
Asking for coverage of a drug that is not on the Drug List is sometimes called asking for a "formulary exception."




    • If we agree to make an exception and cover a drug that is not on the Drug List, you will need to pay the cost-sharing amount that applies to drugs in Tier 5 (Specialty). You cannot ask for an exception to the copayment or coinsurance amount we require you to pay for the drug.
  1. Removing a restriction on our coverage for a covered drug. There are extra rules or restrictions that apply to certain drugs on our List of Covered Drugs (Formulary) (for more information, go to Chapter 5 and look for Section 4).
Legal Terms
Asking for removal of a restriction on coverage for a drug is sometimes called asking for a "formulary exception."




    • The extra rules and restrictions on coverage for certain drugs include:

      • Being required to use the generic version of a drug instead of the brand name drug.

      • Getting plan approval in advance before we will agree to cover the drug for you. (This is sometimes called "prior authorization.")

      • Being required to try a different drug first before we will agree to cover the drug you are asking for. (This is sometimes called "step therapy.")

      • Quantity limits. For some drugs, there are restrictions on the amount of the drug you can have.

    • If we agree to make an exception and waive a restriction for you, you can ask for an exception to the copayment or coinsurance amount we require you to pay for the drug.
  1. Changing coverage of a drug to a lower cost-sharing tier. Every drug on our Drug List is in one of five cost-sharing tiers. In general, the lower the cost-sharing tier number, the less you will pay as your share of the cost of the drug.
Legal Terms
Asking to pay a lower price for a covered non-preferred drug is sometimes called asking for a "tiering exception."




  • If our drug list contains alternative drug(s) for treating your medical condition that are in a lower cost-sharing tier than your drug, you can ask us to cover your drug at the cost-sharing amount that applies to the alternative drug(s). This would lower your share of the cost for the drug.

    • If the drug you’re taking is a biological product you can ask us to cover your drug at the cost-sharing amount that applies to the lowest tier that contains biological product alternatives for treating your condition.

    • If the drug you’re taking is a brand name drug you can ask us to cover your drug at the cost-sharing amount that applies to the lowest tier that contains brand name alternatives for treating your condition.

    • If the drug you’re taking is a generic drug you can ask us to cover your drug at the cost-sharing amount that applies to the lowest tier that contains either brand or generic alternatives for treating your condition.
  • You cannot ask us to change the cost-sharing tier for any drug in Tier 5 (Specialty).
  • If we approve your request for a tiering exception and there is more than one lower cost-sharing tier with alternative drugs you can’t take, you will usually pay the lowest amount.

Section 6.3 - Important things to know about asking for exceptions

Your doctor must tell us the medical reasons

Your doctor or other prescriber must give us a statement that explains the medical reasons for requesting an exception. For a faster decision, include this medical information from your doctor or other prescriber when you ask for the exception.

Typically, our Drug List includes more than one drug for treating a particular condition. These different possibilities are called "alternative" drugs. If an alternative drug would be just as effective as the drug you are requesting and would not cause more side effects or other health problems, we will generally not approve your request for an exception. If you ask us for a tiering exception, we will generally not approve your request for an exception unless all the alternative drugs in the lower cost-sharing tier(s) won’t work as well for you.

We can say yes or no to your request

  • If we approve your request for an exception, our approval usually is valid until the end of the plan year. This is true as long as your doctor continues to prescribe the drug for you and that drug continues to be safe and effective for treating your condition.
  • If we say no to your request for an exception, you can ask for a review of our decision by making an appeal. Section 6.5 tells how to make an appeal if we say no.

The next section tells you how to ask for a coverage decision, including an exception.


Section 6.4 - Step-by-step: How to ask for a coverage decision, including an exception

Step 1: You ask us to make a coverage decision about the drug(s) or payment you need. If your health requires a quick response, you must ask us to make a "fast coverage decision." You cannot ask for a fast coverage decision if you are asking us to pay you back for a drug you already bought.

What to do

  • Request the type of coverage decision you want. Start by calling, writing, or faxing us to make your request. You, your representative, or your doctor (or other prescriber) can do this. You can also access the coverage decision process through our website. For the details, go to Chapter 2, Section 1 and look for the section called, How to contact us when you are asking for a coverage decision about your Part D prescription drugs. Or if you are asking us to pay you back for a drug, go to the section called, Where to send a request that asks us to pay for our share of the cost for medical care or a drug you have received.
  • You or your doctor or someone else who is acting on your behalf can ask for a coverage decision. Section 4 of this chapter tells how you can give written permission to someone else to act as your representative. You can also have a lawyer act on your behalf.
  • If you want to ask us to pay you back for a drug, start by reading Chapter 7 of this booklet: Asking us to pay our share of a bill you have received for covered medical services or drugs. Chapter 7 describes the situations in which you may need to ask for reimbursement. It also tells how to send us the paperwork that asks us to pay you back for our share of the cost of a drug you have paid for.
  • If you are requesting an exception, provide the "supporting statement." Your doctor or other prescriber must give us the medical reasons for the drug exception you are requesting. (We call this the "supporting statement.") Your doctor or other prescriber can fax or mail the statement to us. Or your doctor or other prescriber can tell us on the phone and follow up by faxing or mailing a written statement if necessary. See Sections 6.2 and 6.3 for more information about exception requests.
  • We must accept any written request, including a request submitted on the CMS Model Coverage Determination Request Form or on our plan’s form, which are available on our website.
  • You or your doctor or someone else who is acting on your behalf can submit a secured electronic coverage determination request available on our website.
Legal Terms
A "fast coverage decision" is called an "expedited coverage determination."




If your health requires it, ask us to give you a "fast coverage decision"

  • When we give you our decision, we will use the "standard" deadlines unless we have agreed to use the "fast" deadlines. A standard coverage decision means we will give you an answer within 72 hours after we receive your doctor’s statement. A fast coverage decision means we will answer within 24 hours after we receive your doctor’s statement.
  • To get a fast coverage decision, you must meet two requirements:

    • You can get a fast coverage decision only if you are asking for a drug you have not yet received. (You cannot get a fast coverage decision if you are asking us to pay you back for a drug you have already bought.)

    • You can get a fast coverage decision only if using the standard deadlines could cause serious harm to your health or hurt your ability to function.
  • If your doctor or other prescriber tells us that your health requires a "fast coverage decision," we will automatically agree to give you a fast coverage decision.
  • If you ask for a fast coverage decision on your own (without your doctor’s or other prescriber’s support), we will decide whether your health requires that we give you a fast coverage decision.

    • If we decide that your medical condition does not meet the requirements for a fast coverage decision, we will send you a letter that says so (and we will use the standard deadlines instead).

    • This letter will tell you that if your doctor or other prescriber asks for the fast coverage decision, we will automatically give a fast coverage decision.

    • The letter will also tell how you can file a complaint about our decision to give you a standard coverage decision instead of the fast coverage decision you requested. It tells how to file a "fast complaint," which means you would get our answer to your complaint within 24 hours of receiving the complaint. (The process for making a complaint is different from the process for coverage decisions and appeals. For more information about the process for making complaints, see Section 10 of this chapter.)

Step 2: We consider your request and we give you our answer.

Deadlines for a "fast coverage decision"

  • If we are using the fast deadlines, we must give you our answer within 24 hours.

    • Generally, this means within 24 hours after we receive your request. If you are requesting an exception, we will give you our answer within 24 hours after we receive your doctor’s statement supporting your request. We will give you our answer sooner if your health requires us to.

    • If we do not meet this deadline, we are required to send your request on to Level 2 of the appeals process, where it will be reviewed by an independent outside organization. Later in this section, we talk about this review organization and explain what happens at Appeal Level 2.
  • If our answer is yes to part or all of what you requested, we must provide the coverage we have agreed to provide within 24 hours after we receive your request or doctor’s statement supporting your request.
  • If our answer is no to part or all of what you requested,we will send you a written statement that explains why we said no. We will also tell you how to appeal.

Deadlines for a "standard coverage decision" about a drug you have not yet received

  • If we are using the standard deadlines, we must give you our answer within 72 hours.

    • Generally, this means within 72 hours after we receive your request. If you are requesting an exception, we will give you our answer within 72 hours after we receive your doctor’s statement supporting your request. We will give you our answer sooner if your health requires us to.

    • If we do not meet this deadline, we are required to send your request on to Level 2 of the appeals process, where it will be reviewed by an independent organization. Later in this section, we talk about this review organization and explain what happens at Appeal Level 2.
  • If our answer is yes to part or all of what you requested –

    • If we approve your request for coverage, we must provide the coverage we have agreed to provide within 72 hours after we receive your request or doctor’s statement supporting your request.
  • If our answer is no to part or all of what you requested, we will send you a written statement that explains why we said no. We will also tell you how to appeal.

Deadlines for a "standard coverage decision" about payment for a drug you have already bought

  • We must give you our answer within 14 calendar days after we receive your request.

    • If we do not meet this deadline, we are required to send your request on to Level 2 of the appeals process, where it will be reviewed by an independent organization. Later in this section, we talk about this review organization and explain what happens at Appeal Level 2.
  • If our answer is yes to part or all of what you requested, we are also required to make payment to you within 14 calendar days after we receive your request.
  • If our answer is no to part or all of what you requested, we will send you a written statement that explains why we said no. We will also tell you how to appeal.

Step 3: If we say no to your coverage request, you decide if you want to make an appeal.

  • If we say no, you have the right to request an appeal. Requesting an appeal means asking us to reconsider – and possibly change – the decision we made.

Section 6.5 - Step-by-step: How to make a Level 1 Appeal (how to ask for a review of a coverage decision made by our plan)
Legal Terms
An appeal to the plan about a Part D drug coverage decision is called a plan"redetermination."




Step 1: You contact us and make your Level 1 Appeal. If your health requires a quick response, you must ask for a "fast appeal."

What to do

  • To start your appeal, you (or your representative or your doctor or other prescriber) must contact us.

    • For details on how to reach us by phone, fax, or mail, or on our website, for any purpose related to your appeal, go to Chapter 2, Section 1, and look for the section called, How to contact us when you are making an appeal about your Part D prescription drugs.
  • If you are asking for a standard appeal, make your appeal by submitting a written request.
  • If you are asking for a fast appeal, you may make your appeal in writing or you may call us at the phone number shown in Chapter 2, Section 1 (How to contact our plan when you are making an appeal about your Part D prescription drugs).
  • We must accept any written request, including a request submitted on the CMS Model Coverage Determination Request Form, which is available on our website.
  • You or your doctor or someone else who is acting on your behalf can submit a secured electronic appeal request available on our website.
  • You must make your appeal request within 60 calendar days from the date on the written notice we sent to tell you our answer to your request for a coverage decision. If you miss this deadline and have a good reason for missing it, we may give you more time to make your appeal. Examples of good cause for missing the deadline may include if you had a serious illness that prevented you from contacting us or if we provided you with incorrect or incomplete information about the deadline for requesting an appeal.
  • You can ask for a copy of the information in your appeal and add more information.

    • You have the right to ask us for a copy of the information regarding your appeal. We are allowed to charge a fee for copying and sending this information to you.

    • If you wish, you and your doctor or other prescriber may give us additional information to support your appeal.
Legal Terms
A "fast appeal" is also called an "expedited redetermination."




If your health requires it, ask for a "fast appeal"

  • If you are appealing a decision we made about a drug you have not yet received, you and your doctor or other prescriber will need to decide if you need a "fast appeal."
  • The requirements for getting a "fast appeal" are the same as those for getting a "fast coverage decision" in Section 6.4 of this chapter.

Step 2: We consider your appeal and we give you our answer.

  • When we are reviewing your appeal, we take another careful look at all of the information about your coverage request. We check to see if we were following all the rules when we said no to your request. We may contact you or your doctor or other prescriber to get more information.

Deadlines for a "fast appeal"

  • If we are using the fast deadlines, we must give you our answer within 72 hours after we receive your appeal. We will give you our answer sooner if your health requires it.

    • If we do not give you an answer within 72 hours, we are required to send your request on to Level 2 of the appeals process, where it will be reviewed by an Independent Review Organization. Later in this section, we talk about this review organization and explain what happens at Level 2 of the appeals process.
  • If our answer is yes to part or all of what you requested, we must provide the coverage we have agreed to provide within 72 hours after we receive your appeal.
  • If our answer is no to part or all of what you requested, we will send you a written statement that explains why we said no and how to appeal our decision.

Deadlines for a "standard appeal"

  • If we are using the standard deadlines, we must give you our answer within 7 calendar days after we receive your appeal for a drug you have not received yet. We will give you our decision sooner if you have not received the drug yet and your health condition requires us to do so. If you believe your health requires it, you should ask for "fast appeal."

    • If we do not give you a decision within 7 calendar days, we are required to send your request on to Level 2 of the appeals process, where it will be reviewed by an Independent Review Organization. Later in this section, we tell about this review organization and explain what happens at Level 2 of the appeals process.
  • If our answer is yes to part or all of what you requested –

    • If we approve a request for coverage, we must provide the coverage we have agreed to provide as quickly as your health requires, but no later than 7 calendar days after we receive your appeal.

    • If we approve a request to pay you back for a drug you already bought, we are required to send payment to you within 30 calendar days after we receive your appeal request.
  • If our answer is no to part or all of what you requested, we will send you a written statement that explains why we said no and how to appeal our decision.
  • If you are requesting that we pay you back for a drug you have already bought, we must give you our answer within 14 calendar days after we receive your request.

    • If we do not give you a decision within 14 calendar days, we are required to send your request on to Level 2 of the appeals process, where it will be reviewed by an independent organization. Later in this section, we talk about this review organization and explain what happens at Appeal Level 2.
  • If our answer is yes to part or all of what you requested, we are also required to make payment to you within 30 calendar days after we receive your request.
  • If our answer is no to part or all of what you requested, we will send you a written statement that explains why we said no. We will also tell you how to appeal.

Step 3: If we say no to your appeal, you decide if you want to continue with the appeals process and make another appeal.

  • If we say no to your appeal, you then choose whether to accept this decision or continue by making another appeal.
  • If you decide to make another appeal, it means your appeal is going on to Level 2 of the appeals process (see below).

Section 6.6 - Step-by-step: How to make a Level 2 Appeal

If we say no to your appeal, you then choose whether to accept this decision or continue by making another appeal. If you decide to go on to a Level 2 Appeal, the Independent Review Organization reviews the decision we made when we said no to your first appeal. This organization decides whether the decision we made should be changed.

Legal Terms
The formal name for the "Independent Review Organization" is the "Independent Review Entity." It is sometimes called the "IRE."




Step 1: To make a Level 2 Appeal, you (or your representative or your doctor or other prescriber) must contact the Independent Review Organization and ask for a review of your case.

  • If we say no to your Level 1 Appeal, the written notice we send you will include instructions on how to make a Level 2 Appeal with the Independent Review Organization. These instructions will tell who can make this Level 2 Appeal, what deadlines you must follow, and how to reach the review organization.
  • When you make an appeal to the Independent Review Organization, we will send the information we have about your appeal to this organization. This information is called your "case file." You have the right to ask us for a copy of your case file. We are allowed to charge you a fee for copying and sending this information to you.
  • You have a right to give the Independent Review Organization additional information to support your appeal.

Step 2: The Independent Review Organization does a review of your appeal and gives you an answer.

  • The Independent Review Organization is an independent organization that is hired by Medicare. This organization is not connected with us and it is not a government agency. This organization is a company chosen by Medicare to review our decisions about your Part D benefits with us.
  • Reviewers at the Independent Review Organization will take a careful look at all of the information related to your appeal. The organization will tell you its decision in writing and explain the reasons for it.

Deadlines for "fast appeal" at Level 2

  • If your health requires it, ask the Independent Review Organization for a "fast appeal."
  • If the review organization agrees to give you a "fast appeal," the review organization must give you an answer to your Level 2 Appeal within 72 hours after it receives your appeal request.
  • If the Independent Review Organization says yes to part or all of what you requested, we must provide the drug coverage that was approved by the review organization within 24 hours after we receive the decision from the review organization.

Deadlines for "standard appeal" at Level 2

  • If you have a standard appeal at Level 2, the review organization must give you an answer to your Level 2 Appeal within 7 calendar days after it receives your appeal if it is for a drug you have not received yet. If you are requesting that we pay you back for a drug you have already bought, the review organization must give you an answer to your level 2 appeal within 14 calendar days after it receives your request.
  • If the Independent Review Organization says yes to part or all of what you requested –

    • If the Independent Review Organization approves a request for coverage, we must provide the drug coverage that was approved by the review organization within 72 hours after we receive the decision from the review organization.

    • If the Independent Review Organization approves a request to pay you back for a drug you already bought, we are required to send payment to you within 30 calendar days after we receive the decision from the review organization.

What if the review organization says no to your appeal?

If this organization says no to your appeal, it means the organization agrees with our decision not to approve your request. (This is called "upholding the decision." It is also called "turning down your appeal.")

If the Independent Review Organization "upholds the decision" you have the right to a Level 3 Appeal. However, to make another appeal at Level 3, the dollar value of the drug coverage you are requesting must meet a minimum amount. If the dollar value of the drug coverage you are requesting is too low, you cannot make another appeal and the decision at Level 2 is final. The notice you get from the Independent Review Organization will tell you the dollar value that must be in dispute to continue with the appeals process.

Step 3: If the dollar value of the coverage you are requesting meets the requirement, you choose whether you want to take your appeal further.

  • There are three additional levels in the appeals process after Level 2 (for a total of five levels of appeal).
  • If your Level 2 Appeal is turned down and you meet the requirements to continue with the appeals process, you must decide whether you want to go on to Level 3 and make a third appeal. If you decide to make a third appeal, the details on how to do this are in the written notice you got after your second appeal.
  • The Level 3 Appeal is handled by an Administrative Law Judge or attorney adjudicator. Section 9 in this chapter tells more about Levels 3, 4, and 5 of the appeals process.

When you are admitted to a hospital, you have the right to get all of your covered hospital services that are necessary to diagnose and treat your illness or injury. For more information about our coverage for your hospital care, including any limitations on this coverage, see Chapter 4 of this booklet: Medical Benefits Chart (what is covered and what you pay).

During your covered hospital stay, your doctor and the hospital staff will be working with you to prepare for the day when you will leave the hospital. They will also help arrange for care you may need after you leave.

  • The day you leave the hospital is called your "discharge date."
  • When your discharge date has been decided, your doctor or the hospital staff will let you know.
  • If you think you are being asked to leave the hospital too soon, you can ask for a longer hospital stay and your request will be considered. This section tells you how to ask.

Section 7.1 - During your inpatient hospital stay, you will get a written notice from Medicare that tells about your rights

During your covered hospital stay, you will be given a written notice called An Important Message from Medicare about Your Rights. Everyone with Medicare gets a copy of this notice whenever they are admitted to a hospital. Someone at the hospital (for example, a caseworker or nurse) must give it to you within two days after you are admitted. If you do not get the notice, ask any hospital employee for it. If you need help, please call Member Services (phone numbers are printed on the back cover of this booklet). You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

  1. Read this notice carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand it. It tells you about your rights as a hospital patient, including:

    • Your right to receive Medicare-covered services during and after your hospital stay, as ordered by your doctor. This includes the right to know what these services are, who will pay for them, and where you can get them.

    • Your right to be involved in any decisions about your hospital stay, and know who will pay for it.

    • Where to report any concerns you have about quality of your hospital care.

    • Your right to appeal your discharge decision if you think you are being discharged from the hospital too soon.
Legal Terms
The written notice from Medicare tells you how you can "request an immediate review." Requesting an immediate review is a formal, legal way to ask for a delay in your discharge date so that we will cover your hospital care for a longer time. (Section 7.2 below tells you how you can request an immediate review.)









  1. You must sign the written notice to show that you received it and understand your rights.

    • You or someone who is acting on your behalf must sign the notice. (Section 4 of this chapter tells how you can give written permission to someone else to act as your representative.)

    • Signing the notice shows only that you have received the information about your rights. The notice does not give your discharge date (your doctor or hospital staff will tell you your discharge date). Signing the notice does not mean you are agreeing on a discharge date.
  1. Keep your copy of the signed notice so you will have the information about making an appeal (or reporting a concern about quality of care) handy if you need it.

    • If you sign the notice more than two days before the day you leave the hospital, you will get another copy before you are scheduled to be discharged.

    • To look at a copy of this notice in advance, you can call Member Services (phone numbers are printed on the back cover of this booklet) or 1-800 MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. You can also see it online at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-General-Information/BNI/HospitalDischargeAppealNotices.html.

Section 7.2 - Step-by-step: How to make a Level 1 Appeal to change your hospital discharge date

If you want to ask for your inpatient hospital services to be covered by us for a longer time, you will need to use the appeals process to make this request. Before you start, understand what you need to do and what the deadlines are.

  • Follow the process. Each step in the first two levels of the appeals process is explained below.
  • Meet the deadlines. The deadlines are important. Be sure that you understand and follow the deadlines that apply to things you must do.
  • Ask for help if you need it. If you have questions or need help at any time, please call Member Services (phone numbers are printed on the back cover of this booklet). Or call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program, a government organization that provides personalized assistance (see Section 2 of this chapter).

During a Level 1 Appeal, the Quality Improvement Organization reviews your appeal. It checks to see if your planned discharge date is medically appropriate for you.


Step 1: Contact the Quality Improvement Organization for your state and ask for a "fast review" of your hospital discharge. You must act quickly.

What is the Quality Improvement Organization?

  • This organization is a group of doctors and other health care professionals who are paid by the Federal government. These experts are not part of our plan. This organization is paid by Medicare to check on and help improve the quality of care for people with Medicare. This includes reviewing hospital discharge dates for people with Medicare.

How can you contact this organization?

  • The written notice you received (An Important Message from Medicare About Your Rights) tells you how to reach this organization. (Or find the name, address, and phone number of the Quality Improvement Organization for your state in Chapter 2, Section 4, of this booklet.)

Act quickly:

  • To make your appeal, you must contact the Quality Improvement Organization before you leave the hospital and no later than your planned discharge date. (Your "planned discharge date" is the date that has been set for you to leave the hospital.)

    • If you meet this deadline, you are allowed to stay in the hospital after your discharge date without paying for it while you wait to get the decision on your appeal from the Quality Improvement Organization.

    • If you do not meet this deadline, and you decide to stay in the hospital after your planned discharge date, you may have to pay all of the costs for hospital care you receive after your planned discharge date.
  • If you miss the deadline for contacting the Quality Improvement Organization about your appeal, you can make your appeal directly to our plan instead. For details about this other way to make your appeal, see Section 7.4.

Ask for a "fast review":

  • You must ask the Quality Improvement Organization for a "fast review" of your discharge. Asking for a "fast review" means you are asking for the organization to use the "fast" deadlines for an appeal instead of using the standard deadlines.
Legal Terms
A "fast review" is also called an "immediate review" or an "expedited review."




Step 2: The Quality Improvement Organization conducts an independent review of your case.

What happens during this review?

  • Health professionals at the Quality Improvement Organization (we will call them "the reviewers" for short) will ask you (or your representative) why you believe coverage for the services should continue. You don’t have to prepare anything in writing, but you may do so if you wish.
  • The reviewers will also look at your medical information, talk with your doctor, and review information that the hospital and we have given to them.
  • By noon of the day after the reviewers informed our plan of your appeal, you will also get a written notice that gives your planned discharge date and explains in detail the reasons why your doctor, the hospital, and we think it is right (medically appropriate) for you to be discharged on that date.
Legal Terms
This written explanation is called the "Detailed Notice of Discharge." You can get a sample of this notice by calling Member Services (phone numbers are printed on the back cover of this booklet) or 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.) Or you can see a sample notice online at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-General-Information/BNI/HospitalDischargeAppealNotices.html

Step 3: Within one full day after it has all the needed information, the Quality Improvement Organization will give you its answer to your appeal.

What happens if the answer is yes?

  • If the review organization says yes to your appeal, we must keep providing your covered inpatient hospital services for as long as these services are medically necessary.
  • You will have to keep paying your share of the costs (such as deductibles or copayments, if these apply). In addition, there may be limitations on your covered hospital services. (See Chapter 4 of this booklet).

What happens if the answer is no?

  • If the review organization says no to your appeal, they are saying that your planned discharge date is medically appropriate. If this happens, our coverage for your inpatient hospital services will end at noon on the day after the Quality Improvement Organization gives you its answer to your appeal.
  • If the review organization says no to your appeal and you decide to stay in the hospital, then you may have to pay the full cost of hospital care you receive after noon on the day after the Quality Improvement Organization gives you its answer to your appeal.

Step 4: If the answer to your Level 1 Appeal is no, you decide if you want to make another appeal.

  • If the Quality Improvement Organization has turned down your appeal, and you stay in the hospital after your planned discharge date, then you can make another appeal. Making another appeal means you are going on to "Level 2" of the appeals process.

Section 7.3 - Step-by-step: How to make a Level 2 Appeal to change your hospital discharge date

If the Quality Improvement Organization has turned down your appeal, and you stay in the hospital after your planned discharge date, then you can make a Level 2 Appeal. During a Level 2 Appeal, you ask the Quality Improvement Organization to take another look at the decision they made on your first appeal. If the Quality Improvement Organization turns down your Level 2 Appeal, you may have to pay the full cost for your stay after your planned discharge date.

Here are the steps for Level 2 of the appeal process:

Step 1: You contact the Quality Improvement Organization again and ask for another review.

  • You must ask for this review within 60 calendar days after the day the Quality Improvement Organization said no to your Level 1 Appeal. You can ask for this review only if you stayed in the hospital after the date that your coverage for the care ended.

Step 2: The Quality Improvement Organization does a second review of your situation.

  • Reviewers at the Quality Improvement Organization will take another careful look at all of the information related to your appeal.

Step 3: Within 14 calendar days of receipt of your request for a second review, the Quality Improvement Organization reviewers will decide on your appeal and tell you their decision.

If the review organization says yes:

  • We must reimburse you for our share of the costs of hospital care you have received since noon on the day after the date your first appeal was turned down by the Quality Improvement Organization. We must continue providing coverage for your inpatient hospital care for as long as it is medically necessary.
  • You must continue to pay your share of the costs and coverage limitations may apply.

If the review organization says no:

  • It means they agree with the decision they made on your Level 1 Appeal and will not change it. This is called "upholding the decision."
  • The notice you get will tell you in writing what you can do if you wish to continue with the review process. It will give you the details about how to go on to the next level of appeal, which is handled by an Administrative Law Judge or attorney adjudicator.

Step 4: If the answer is no, you will need to decide whether you want to take your appeal further by going on to Level 3.

  • There are three additional levels in the appeals process after Level 2 (for a total of five levels of appeal). If the review organization turns down your Level 2 Appeal, you can choose whether to accept that decision or whether to go on to Level 3 and make another appeal. At Level 3, your appeal is reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge or attorney adjudicator.
  • Section 9 in this chapter tells more about Levels 3, 4, and 5 of the appeals process.

Section 7.4 - What if you miss the deadline for making your Level 1 Appeal?

You can appeal to us instead

As explained above in Section 7.2, you must act quickly to contact the Quality Improvement Organization to start your first appeal of your hospital discharge. ("Quickly" means before you leave the hospital and no later than your planned discharge date.) If you miss the deadline for contacting this organization, there is another way to make your appeal.

If you use this other way of making your appeal,the first two levels of appeal are different.

Step-by-Step: How to make a Level 1 Alternate Appeal

If you miss the deadline for contacting the Quality Improvement Organization, you can make an appeal to us, asking for a "fast review." A fast review is an appeal that uses the fast deadlines instead of the standard deadlines.

Legal Terms
A "fast review" (or "fast appeal") is also called an "expedited appeal."





Step 1: Contact us and ask for a "fast review."

  • For details on how to contact us, go to Chapter 2, Section 1 and look for the section called, How to contact us when you are making an appeal about your medical care.
  • Be sure to ask for a "fast review." This means you are asking us to give you an answer using the "fast" deadlines rather than the "standard" deadlines.

Step 2: We do a "fast review" of your planned discharge date, checking to see if it was medically appropriate.

  • During this review, we take a look at all of the information about your hospital stay. We check to see if your planned discharge date was medically appropriate. We will check to see if the decision about when you should leave the hospital was fair and followed all the rules.
  • In this situation, we will use the "fast" deadlines rather than the standard deadlines for giving you the answer to this review.

Step 3: We give you our decision within 72 hours after you ask for a "fast review" ("fast appeal").

  • If we say yes to your fast appeal, it means we have agreed with you that you still need to be in the hospital after the discharge date, and will keep providing your covered inpatient hospital services for as long as it is medically necessary. It also means that we have agreed to reimburse you for our share of the costs of care you have received since the date when we said your coverage would end. (You must pay your share of the costs and there may be coverage limitations that apply.)
  • If we say no to your fast appeal, we are saying that your planned discharge date was medically appropriate. Our coverage for your inpatient hospital services ends as of the day we said coverage would end.

    • If you stayed in the hospital after your planned discharge date, then you may have to pay the full cost of hospital care you received after the planned discharge date.

Step 4: If we say no to your fast appeal, your case will automatically be sent on to the next level of the appeals process.

  • To make sure we were following all the rules when we said no to your fast appeal, we are required to send your appeal to the "Independent Review Organization." When we do this, it means that you are automatically going on to Level 2 of the appeals process.

Step-by-Step: Level 2 Alternate Appeal Process

If we say no to your Level 1 Appeal, your case will automatically be sent on to the next level of the appeals process. During the Level 2 Appeal, an Independent Review Organization reviews the decision we made when we said no to your "fast appeal." This organization decides whether the decision we made should be changed.

Legal Terms
The formal name for the "Independent Review Organization" is the "Independent Review Entity." It is sometimes called the "IRE."






Step 1: We will automatically forward your case to the Independent Review Organization.

  • We are required to send the information for your Level 2 Appeal to the Independent Review Organization within 24 hours of when we tell you that we are saying no to your first appeal. (If you think we are not meeting this deadline or other deadlines, you can make a complaint. The complaint process is different from the appeal process. Section 10 of this chapter tells how to make a complaint.)

Step 2: The Independent Review Organization does a "fast review" of your appeal. The reviewers give you an answer within 72 hours.

  • The Independent Review Organization is an independent organization that is hired by Medicare. This organization is not connected with our plan and it is not a government agency. This organization is a company chosen by Medicare to handle the job of being the Independent Review Organization. Medicare oversees its work.
  • Reviewers at the Independent Review Organization will take a careful look at all of the information related to your appeal of your hospital discharge.
  • If this organization says yes to your appeal, then we must reimburse you (pay you back) for our share of the costs of hospital care you have received since the date of your planned discharge. We must also continue the plan’s coverage of your inpatient hospital services for as long as it is medically necessary. You must continue to pay your share of the costs. If there are coverage limitations, these could limit how much we would reimburse or how long we would continue to cover your services.
  • If this organization says no to your appeal, it means they agree with us that your planned hospital discharge date was medically appropriate.

    • The notice you get from the Independent Review Organization will tell you in writing what you can do if you wish to continue with the review process. It will give you the details about how to go on to a Level 3 Appeal, which is handled by an Administrative Law Judge or attorney adjudicator.

Step 3: If the Independent Review Organization turns down your appeal, you choose whether you want to take your appeal further.

  • There are three additional levels in the appeals process after Level 2 (for a total of five levels of appeal). If reviewers say no to your Level 2 Appeal, you decide whether to accept their decision or go on to Level 3 and make a third appeal.
  • Section 9 in this chapter tells more about Levels 3, 4, and 5 of the appeals process.

Section 8.1 - This section is about three services only: Home health care, skilled nursing facility care, and Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF) services

This section is about the following types of care only:

  • Home health care services you are getting.
  • Skilled nursing care you are getting as a patient in a skilled nursing facility. (To learn about requirements for being considered a "skilled nursing facility," see Chapter 12, Definitions of important words.)
  • Rehabilitation care you are getting as an outpatient at a Medicare-approved Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF). Usually, this means you are getting treatment for an illness or accident, or you are recovering from a major operation. (For more information about this type of facility, see Chapter 12, Definitions of important words.)

When you are getting any of these types of care, you have the right to keep getting your covered services for that type of care for as long as the care is needed to diagnose and treat your illness or injury. For more information on your covered services, including your share of the cost and any limitations to coverage that may apply, see Chapter 4 of this booklet: Medical Benefits Chart (what is covered and what you pay).

When we decide it is time to stop covering any of the three types of care for you, we are required to tell you in advance. When your coverage for that care ends, we will stop paying our share of the cost for your care.

If you think we are ending the coverage of your care too soon, you can appeal our decision. This section tells you how to ask for an appeal.


Section 8.2 - We will tell you in advance when your coverage will be ending
  1. You receive a notice in writing. At least two days before our plan is going to stop covering your care, you will receive a notice.

    • The written notice tells you the date when we will stop covering the care for you.

    • The written notice also tells what you can do if you want to ask our plan to change this decision about when to end your care, and keep covering it for a longer period of time.
Legal Terms
In telling you what you can do, the written notice is telling how you can request a "fast-track appeal." Requesting a fast-track appeal is a formal, legal way to request a change to our coverage decision about when to stop your care. (Section 8.3 below tells how you can request a fast-track appeal.)

The written notice is called the "Notice of Medicare Non-Coverage." To get a sample copy, call Member Services (phone numbers are printed on the back cover of this booklet) or 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.) Or see a copy online at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-General-Information/BNI/MAEDNotices.html
  1. You must sign the written notice to show that you received it.

    • You or someone who is acting on your behalf must sign the notice. (Section 4 tells how you can give written permission to someone else to act as your representative.)

    • Signing the notice shows only that you have received the information about when your coverage will stop. Signing it does not mean you agree with the plan that it’s time to stop getting the care.

Section 8.3 - Step-by-step: How to make a Level 1 Appeal to have our plan cover your care for a longer time

If you want to ask us to cover your care for a longer period of time, you will need to use the appeals process to make this request. Before you start, understand what you need to do and what the deadlines are.

  • Follow the process. Each step in the first two levels of the appeals process is explained below.
  • Meet the deadlines. The deadlines are important. Be sure that you understand and follow the deadlines that apply to things you must do. There are also deadlines our plan must follow. (If you think we are not meeting our deadlines, you can file a complaint. Section 10 of this chapter tells you how to file a complaint.)
  • Ask for help if you need it. If you have questions or need help at any time, please call Member Services (phone numbers are printed on the back cover of this booklet). Or call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program, a government organization that provides personalized assistance (see Section 2 of this chapter).

If you ask for a Level 1 Appeal on time, the Quality Improvement Organization reviews your appeal and decides whether to change the decision made by our plan.

Step 1: Make your Level 1 Appeal: contact the Quality Improvement Organization for your state and ask for a review. You must act quickly.

What is the Quality Improvement Organization?

  • This organization is a group of doctors and other health care experts who are paid by the Federal government. These experts are not part of our plan. They check on the quality of care received by people with Medicare and review plan decisions about when it’s time to stop covering certain kinds of medical care.

How can you contact this organization?

  • The written notice you received tells you how to reach this organization. (Or find the name, address, and phone number of the Quality Improvement Organization for your state in Chapter 2, Section 4, of this booklet.)

What should you ask for?

  • Ask this organization for a "fast-track appeal" (to do an independent review) of whether it is medically appropriate for us to end coverage for your medical services.

Your deadline for contacting this organization.

  • You must contact the Quality Improvement Organization to start your appeal no later than noon of the day after you receive the written notice telling you when we will stop covering your care.
  • If you miss the deadline for contacting the Quality Improvement Organization about your appeal, you can make your appeal directly to us instead. For details about this other way to make your appeal, see Section 8.5.

Step 2: The Quality Improvement Organization conducts an independent review of your case.

What happens during this review?

  • Health professionals at the Quality Improvement Organization (we will call them "the reviewers" for short) will ask you (or your representative) why you believe coverage for the services should continue. You don’t have to prepare anything in writing, but you may do so if you wish.
  • The review organization will also look at your medical information, talk with your doctor, and review information that our plan has given to them.
  • By the end of the day the reviewers inform us of your appeal, and you will also get a written notice from us that explains in detail our reasons for ending our coverage for your services.
Legal Terms
This notice of explanation is called the "Detailed Explanation of Non-Coverage."





Step 3: Within one full day after they have all the information they need, the reviewers will tell you their decision.

What happens if the reviewers say yes to your appeal?

  • If the reviewers say yes to your appeal, then we must keep providing your covered services for as long as it is medically necessary.
  • You will have to keep paying your share of the costs (such as deductibles or copayments, if these apply). In addition, there may be limitations on your covered services (see Chapter 4 of this booklet).

What happens if the reviewers say no to your appeal?

  • If the reviewers say no to your appeal, then your coverage will end on the date we have told you. We will stop paying our share of the costs of this care on the date listed on the notice.
  • If you decide to keep getting the home health care, or skilled nursing facility care, or Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF) services after this date when your coverage ends, then you will have to pay the full cost of this care yourself.

Step 4: If the answer to your Level 1 Appeal is no, you decide if you want to make another appeal.

  • This first appeal you make is "Level 1" of the appeals process. If reviewers say no to your Level 1 Appeal – and you choose to continue getting care after your coverage for the care has ended – then you can make another appeal.
  • Making another appeal means you are going on to "Level 2" of the appeals process.

Section 8.4 - Step-by-step: How to make a Level 2 Appeal to have our plan cover your care for a longer time

If the Quality Improvement Organization has turned down your appeal and you choose to continue getting care after your coverage for the care has ended, then you can make a Level 2 Appeal. During a Level 2 Appeal, you ask the Quality Improvement Organization to take another look at the decision they made on your first appeal. If the Quality Improvement Organization turns down your Level 2 Appeal, you may have to pay the full cost for your home health care, or skilled nursing facility care, or Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF) services after the date when we said your coverage would end.

Here are the steps for Level 2 of the appeal process:

Step 1: You contact the Quality Improvement Organization again and ask for another review.

  • You must ask for this review within 60 days after the day when the Quality Improvement Organization said no to your Level 1 Appeal. You can ask for this review only if you continued getting care after the date that your coverage for the care ended.

Step 2: The Quality Improvement Organization does a second review of your situation.

  • Reviewers at the Quality Improvement Organization will take another careful look at all of the information related to your appeal.

Step 3: Within 14 days of receipt of your appeal request, reviewers will decide on your appeal and tell you their decision.

What happens if the review organization says yes to your appeal?

  • We must reimburse you for our share of the costs of care you have received since the date when we said your coverage would end. We must continue providing coverage for the care for as long as it is medically necessary.
  • You must continue to pay your share of the costs and there may be coverage limitations that apply.

What happens if the review organization says no?

  • It means they agree with the decision we made to your Level 1 Appeal and will not change it.
  • The notice you get will tell you in writing what you can do if you wish to continue with the review process. It will give you the details about how to go on to the next level of appeal, which is handled by an Administrative Law Judge or attorney adjudicator.

Step 4: If the answer is no, you will need to decide whether you want to take your appeal further.

  • There are three additional levels of appeal after Level 2, for a total of five levels of appeal. If reviewers turn down your Level 2 Appeal, you can choose whether to accept that decision or to go on to Level 3 and make another appeal. At Level 3, your appeal is reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge or attorney adjudicator.
  • Section 9 in this chapter tells more about Levels 3, 4, and 5 of the appeals process.

Section 8.5 - What if you miss the deadline for making your Level 1 Appeal?

You can appeal to us instead

As explained above in Section 8.3, you must act quickly to contact the Quality Improvement Organization to start your first appeal (within a day or two, at the most). If you miss the deadline for contacting this organization, there is another way to make your appeal. If you use this other way of making your appeal, the first two levels of appeal are different.

Step-by-Step: How to make a Level 1 Alternate Appeal

If you miss the deadline for contacting the Quality Improvement Organization, you can make an appeal to us, asking for a "fast review." A fast review is an appeal that uses the fast deadlines instead of the standard deadlines.

Here are the steps for a Level 1 Alternate Appeal:

Legal Terms
A "fast review" (or "fast appeal") is also called an "expedited appeal."




Step 1: Contact us and ask for a "fast review."

  • For details on how to contact us, go to Chapter 2, Section 1 and look for the section called, How to contact us when you are making an appeal about your medical care.
  • Be sure to ask for a "fast review." This means you are asking us to give you an answer using the "fast" deadlines rather than the "standard" deadlines.

Step 2: We do a "fast review" of the decision we made about when to end coverage for your services.

  • During this review, we take another look at all of the information about your case. We check to see if we were following all the rules when we set the date for ending the plan’s coverage for services you were receiving.
  • We will use the "fast" deadlines rather than the standard deadlines for giving you the answer to this review.

Step 3: We give you our decision within 72 hours after you ask for a "fast review" ("fast appeal").

  • If we say yes to your fast appeal, it means we have agreed with you that you need services longer, and will keep providing your covered services for as long as it is medically necessary. It also means that we have agreed to reimburse you for our share of the costs of care you have received since the date when we said your coverage would end. (You must pay your share of the costs and there may be coverage limitations that apply.)
  • If we say no to your fast appeal, then your coverage will end on the date we told you and we will not pay any share of the costs after this date.
  • If you continued to get home health care, or skilled nursing facility care, or Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF) services after the date when we said your coverage would end, then you will have to pay the full cost of this care yourself.

Step 4: If we say no to your fast appeal, your case will automatically go on to the next level of the appeals process.

  • To make sure we were following all the rules when we said no to your fast appeal, we are required to send your appeal to the "Independent Review Organization." When we do this, it means that you are automatically going on to Level 2 of the appeals process.

Step-by-Step: Level 2 Alternate Appeal Process

If we say no to your Level 1 Appeal, your case will automatically be sent on to the next level of the appeals process. During the Level 2 Appeal, the Independent Review Organization reviews the decision we made when we said no to your "fast appeal." This organization decides whether the decision we made should be changed.

Legal Terms
The formal name for the "Independent Review Organization" is the "Independent Review Entity." It is sometimes called the "IRE."








Step 1: We will automatically forward your case to the Independent Review Organization.

  • We are required to send the information for your Level 2 Appeal to the Independent Review Organization within 24 hours of when we tell you that we are saying no to your first appeal. (If you think we are not meeting this deadline or other deadlines, you can make a complaint. The complaint process is different from the appeal process. Section 10 of this chapter tells how to make a complaint.)

Step 2: The Independent Review Organization does a "fast review" of your appeal. The reviewers give you an answer within 72 hours.

  • The Independent Review Organization is an independent organization that is hired by Medicare. This organization is not connected with our plan and it is not a government agency. This organization is a company chosen by Medicare to handle the job of being the Independent Review Organization. Medicare oversees its work.
  • Reviewers at the Independent Review Organization will take a careful look at all of the information related to your appeal.
  • If this organization says yes to your appeal, then we must reimburse you (pay you back) for our share of the costs of care you have received since the date when we said your coverage would end. We must also continue to cover the care for as long as it is medically necessary. You must continue to pay your share of the costs. If there are coverage limitations, these could limit how much we would reimburse or how long we would continue to cover your services.
  • If this organization says no to your appeal, it means they agree with the decision our plan made to your first appeal and will not change it.

    • The notice you get from the Independent Review Organization will tell you in writing what you can do if you wish to continue with the review process. It will give you the details about how to go on to a Level 3 Appeal.

Step 3: If the Independent Review Organization turns down your appeal, you choose whether you want to take your appeal further.

  • There are three additional levels of appeal after Level 2, for a total of five levels of appeal. If reviewers say no to your Level 2 Appeal, you can choose whether to accept that decision or whether to go on to Level 3 and make another appeal. At Level 3, your appeal is reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge or attorney adjudicator.
  • Section 9 in this chapter tells more about Levels 3, 4, and 5 of the appeals process.

Section 9.1 - Levels of Appeal 3, 4, and 5 for Medical Service Appeals

This section may be appropriate for you if you have made a Level 1 Appeal and a Level 2 Appeal, and both of your appeals have been turned down.

If the dollar value of the item or medical service you have appealed meets certain minimum levels, you may be able to go on to additional levels of appeal. If the dollar value is less than the minimum level, you cannot appeal any further. If the dollar value is high enough, the written response you receive to your Level 2 Appeal will explain who to contact and what to do to ask for a Level 3 Appeal.

For most situations that involve appeals, the last three levels of appeal work in much the same way. Here is who handles the review of your appeal at each of these levels.

Level 3 Appeal: A judge (called an Administrative Law Judge) or an attorney adjudicator who works for the Federal government will review your appeal and give you an answer.
  • If the Administrative Law Judge or attorney adjudicator says yes to your appeal, the appeals process may or may not be over - We will decide whether to appeal this decision to Level 4. Unlike a decision at Level 2 (Independent Review Organization), we have the right to appeal a Level 3 decision that is favorable to you.

    • If we decide not to appeal the decision, we must authorize or provide you with the service within 60 calendar days after receiving the Administrative Law Judge’s or attorney adjudicator’s decision.

    • If we decide to appeal the decision, we will send you a copy of the Level 4 Appeal request with any accompanying documents. We may wait for the Level 4 Appeal decision before authorizing or providing the service in dispute.
  • If the Administrative Law Judge or attorney adjudicator says no to your appeal, the appeals process may or may not be over.

    • If you decide to accept this decision that turns down your appeal, the appeals process is over.

    • If you do not want to accept the decision, you can continue to the next level of the review process. If the Administrative Law Judge or attorney adjudicator says no to your appeal, the notice you get will tell you what to do next if you choose to continue with your appeal.
Level 4 Appeal: The Medicare Appeals Council (Council) will review your appeal and give you an answer. The Council is part of the Federal government.
  • If the answer is yes, or if the Council denies our request to review a favorable Level 3 Appeal decision, the appeals process may or may not be over - We will decide whether to appeal this decision to Level 5. Unlike a decision at Level 2 (Independent Review Organization), we have the right to appeal a Level 4 decision that is favorable to you.

    • If we decide not to appeal the decision, we must authorize or provide you with the service within 60 calendar days after receiving the Council’s decision.

    • If we decide to appeal the decision, we will let you know in writing.
  • If the answer is no or if the Council denies the review request, the appeals process may or may not be over.

    • If you decide to accept this decision that turns down your appeal, the appeals process is over.

    • If you do not want to accept the decision, you might be able to continue to the next level of the review process. If the Council says no to your appeal, the notice you get will tell you whether the rules allow you to go on to a Level 5 Appeal. If the rules allow you to go on, the written notice will also tell you who to contact and what to do next if you choose to continue with your appeal.
Level 5 Appeal: A judge at the Federal District Court will review your appeal.
  • This is the last step of the appeals process.

Section 9.2 - Levels of Appeal 3, 4, and 5 for Part D Drug Appeals

This section may be appropriate for you if you have made a Level 1 Appeal and a Level 2 Appeal, and both of your appeals have been turned down.

If the value of the drug you have appealed meets a certain dollar amount, you may be able to go on to additional levels of appeal. If the dollar amount is less, you cannot appeal any further. The written response you receive to your Level 2 Appeal will explain who to contact and what to do to ask for a Level 3 Appeal.

For most situations that involve appeals, the last three levels of appeal work in much the same way. Here is who handles the review of your appeal at each of these levels.

Level 3 Appeal: A judge (called an Administrative Law Judge) or an attorney adjudicator who works for the Federal government will review your appeal and give you an answer.
  • If the answer is yes, the appeals process is over. What you asked for in the appeal has been approved. We must authorize or provide the drug coverage that was approved by the Administrative Law Judge or an attorney adjudicator within 72 hours (24 hours for expedited appeals) or make payment no later than 30 calendar days after we receive the decision.
  • If the answer is no, the appeals process may or may not be over.

    • If you decide to accept this decision that turns down your appeal, the appeals process is over.

    • If you do not want to accept the decision, you can continue to the next level of the review process. If the Administrative Law Judge or an attorney adjudicator says no to your appeal, the notice you get will tell you what to do next if you choose to continue with your appeal.
Level 4 Appeal: The Medicare Appeals Council (Council) will review your appeal and give you an answer. The Council is part of the Federal government.
  • If the answer is yes, the appeals process is over. What you asked for in the appeal has been approved. We must authorize or provide the drug coverage that was approved by the Council within 72 hours (24 hours for expedited appeals) or make payment no later than 30 calendar days after we receive the decision.
  • If the answer is no, the appeals process may or may not be over.

    • If you decide to accept this decision that turns down your appeal, the appeals process is over.

    • If you do not want to accept the decision, you might be able to continue to the next level of the review process. If the Council says no to your appeal or denies your request to review the appeal, the notice you get will tell you whether the rules allow you to go on to a Level 5 Appeal. If the rules allow you to go on, the written notice will also tell you who to contact and what to do next if you choose to continue with your appeal.
Level 5 Appeal: A judge at theFederal District Courtwill review your appeal.
  • This is the last step of the appeals process.

question mark
    If your problem is about decisions related to benefits, coverage, or payment, then this section is not for you. Instead, you need to use the process for coverage decisions and appeals. Go to Section 4 of this chapter.

Section 10.1 - What kinds of problems are handled by the complaint process?

This section explains how to use the process for making complaints. The complaint process is used for certain types of problems only. This includes problems related to quality of care, waiting times, and the customer service you receive. Here are examples of the kinds of problems handled by the complaint process.

If you have any of these kinds of problems, you can "make a complaint"

Complaint Example
Quality of your medical care
  • Are you unhappy with the quality of the care you have received (including care in the hospital)?
Respecting your privacy
  • Do you believe that someone did not respect your right to privacy or shared information about you that you feel should be confidential?
Disrespect, poor customer service, or other negative behaviors
  • Has someone been rude or disrespectful to you?
  • Are you unhappy with how our Member Services has treated you?
  • Do you feel you are being encouraged to leave the plan?
Waiting times
  • Are you having trouble getting an appointment, or waiting too long to get it?
  • Have you been kept waiting too long by doctors, pharmacists, or other health professionals? Or by our Member Services or other staff at the plan?

    • Examples include waiting too long on the phone, in the waiting room, when getting a prescription, or in the exam room.
Cleanliness
  • Are you unhappy with the cleanliness or condition of a clinic, hospital, or doctor’s office?
Information you get from us
  • Do you believe we have not given you a notice that we are required to give?
  • Do you think written information we have given you is hard to understand?
Timeliness
(These types of complaints are all related to the timeliness of our actions related to coverage decisions and appeals)
The process of asking for a coverage decision and making appeals is explained in Sections 4-9 of this chapter. If you are asking for a decision or making an appeal, you use that process, not the complaint process.

However, if you have already asked us for a coverage decision or made an appeal, and you think that we are not responding quickly enough, you can also make a complaint about our slowness. Here are examples:
  • If you have asked us to give you a "fast coverage decision" or a "fast appeal," and we have said we will not, you can make a complaint.
  • If you believe we are not meeting the deadlines for giving you a coverage decision or an answer to an appeal you have made, you can make a complaint.
  • When a coverage decision we made is reviewed and we are told that we must cover or reimburse you for certain medical services or drugs, there are deadlines that apply. If you think we are not meeting these deadlines, you can make a complaint.
  • When we do not give you a decision on time, we are required to forward your case to the Independent Review Organization. If we do not do that within the required deadline, you can make a complaint.

Section 10.2 - The formal name for "making a complaint" is "filing a grievance"
Legal Terms
  • What this section calls a "complaint" is also called a "grievance."
  • Another term for "making a complaint" is "filing a grievance."
  • Another way to say "using the process for complaints" is "using the process for filing a grievance."

Section 10.3 - Step-by-step: Making a complaint

Step 1: Contact us promptly – either by phone or in writing.

  • Usually, calling Member Services is the first step. If there is anything else you need to do, Member Services will let you know. Please contact Member Services at 713-442-CARE (2273) or toll-free at 1-866-535-8343. From October 1 through March 31, hours are 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days a week. During this period on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, calls are handled by our voicemail system. From April 1 through September 30, hours are 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. During this period on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, calls are handled by our voicemail system. (TTY users should call 1-866-302-9336). Member Services has free language interpreter services available for non-English speakers.
  • If you do not wish to call (or you called and were not satisfied), you can put your complaint in writing and send it to us. If you put your complaint in writing, we will respond to your complaint in writing.
  • You have the right to timely resolution for grievances about services and/or decisions made by the plan. Grievances are reviewed on an individual basis and we will resolve the grievance as quickly as your health status requires. Expedited or fast grievances will be responded to within 24 hours if the grievance is related to the plan’s refusal to expedite a request for medical services which you have not received. Your written grievance should be submitted within 60 days of the event or incident. We will address other grievance requests within 30 days after receiving your complaint. We may extend the time frame by up to 14 days if you ask for the extension, or if we justify a need for additional information and the delay is in your best interest. We will respond to written grievances in writing.
  • Whether you call or write, you should contact Member Services right away. The complaint must be made within 60 calendar days after you had the problem you want to complain about.
  • If you are making a complaint because we denied your request for a "fast coverage decision" or a "fast appeal," we will automatically give you a "fast complaint." If you have a "fast complaint," it means we will give you an answer within 24 hours.
Legal Terms
What this section calls a "fast complaint" is also called an "expedited grievance."




Step 2: We look into your complaint and give you our answer.

  • If possible, we will answer you right away. If you call us with a complaint, we may be able to give you an answer on the same phone call. If your health condition requires us to answer quickly, we will do that.
  • Most complaints are answered in 30 calendar days. If we need more information and the delay is in your best interest or if you ask for more time, we can take up to 14 more calendar days (44 calendar days total) to answer your complaint. If we decide to take extra days, we will tell you in writing.
  • If we do not agree with some or all of your complaint or don’t take responsibility for the problem you are complaining about, we will let you know. Our response will include our reasons for this answer. We must respond whether we agree with the complaint or not.

Section 10.4 - You can also make complaints about quality of care to the Quality Improvement Organization

You can make your complaint about the quality of care you received to us by using the step-by-step process outlined above.

When your complaint is about quality of care, you also have two extra options:

  • You can make your complaint to the Quality Improvement Organization. If you prefer, you can make your complaint about the quality of care you received directly to this organization (without making the complaint to us).

    • The Quality Improvement Organization is a group of practicing doctors and other health care experts paid by the Federal government to check and improve the care given to Medicare patients.

    • To find the name, address, and phone number of the Quality Improvement Organization for your state, look in Chapter 2, Section 4, of this booklet. If you make a complaint to this organization, we will work with them to resolve your complaint.
  • Or you can make your complaint to both at the same time. If you wish, you can make your complaint about quality of care to us and also to the Quality Improvement Organization.

Section 10.5 - You can also tell Medicare about your complaint

You can submit a complaint about KelseyCare Advantage Rx+Choice directly to Medicare. To submit a complaint to Medicare, go to https://www.medicare.gov/MedicareComplaintForm/home.aspx. Medicare takes your complaints seriously and will use this information to help improve the quality of the Medicare program.

If you have any other feedback or concerns, or if you feel the plan is not addressing your issue, please call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY/TDD users can call 1-877-486-2048.