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How to Appeal a Prior Authorization Denial: Doctor Tips

Appealing denials? Learn key doctor tips in 'How to Appeal a Prior Authorization Denial' for success in patient care. Set up your call today!

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Come explore with Portiva as we break down ‘How to Appeal a Prior Authorization Denial: Doctor Tips.’ Our goal is to simplify things, putting your well-being first. Join us in getting the hang of appealing those denials, making insurance hiccups a breeze for your healthcare needs. Let’s arm you with know-how and make sure your healthcare journey is as smooth as possible.

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Table of Contents

prior authorization doctor consulting a patientDon’t get disheartened when you hit a roadblock with a prior authorization denial. Understanding your insurance plan is key whether you’re the patient or a medical provider. The appeal process can differ based on the insurance type, and knowing the ins and outs is crucial for a successful prior authorization.

Nowadays, many patients are often faced with the denial of prior authorization. The PA might be a great cost-effective solution for health plans by an insurance company. However, the request for this service can take up to several days or weeks. But this is not a thing to be upset about because it is a typical answer by the insurance company. So, in the case of such events, do not worry yourself because every person has a right to appeal for your PA to be approved.

Still, it is vital to comprehend the appeal process before you proceed with your appeal. A medical provider can appeal on behalf of their patient if a health plan denies a treatment or medication. Still, if your surgeon does not submit the necessary information you can, you can appeal it on your own. How you appeal your denial depends on the type of insurance plan you have.

And so in this post, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process to make your prior authorization appeal successful.

Reasons Why Insurance Company Denies Your Prior Authorization

Why do those prior authorization requests get rejected? Inaccurate patient info plays a big role. Misspelled names or wrong birthdates can lead to 33% of claim denials. Getting those details right is vital for smooth sailing through the prior authorization process.

You might think you were unlucky for getting your prior authorization request denied. But you should learn that there are several things to consider when submitting your request to health care services.

Here are some of the reasons why patients get their PA rejected.

Submission of Inaccurate Patient Information

In 2019, CAQH (Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare) conducted a survey showcasing 33% of claim denials due to data quality, such as the patient’s misentered information like a wrong-spelled name, incorrect date of birth, and wrong health insurance ID number. These were some of the leading issues that led to the rejection of PA / medical services.

Submission of Incomplete Information

Similar to the inaccuracy of the patient information. Submitting incomplete or missing information about the medication or why the treatment is required can result in the rejection of the PA.

Network Provider

Many insurance companies have network agreements with certain insurance providers. So, if a patient receives out-of-network care, their claim will be accepted.

Cost Management of Services

Not all health care covers services and every expense under its policies. Similarly, a study by the American Medical Association has shown that 15% of the claims were denied in 2020 due to coverage limitations. So, the less expensive treatment is more likely favored by the health insurance company.

Requested Treatment or Apparatus Not Being Covered

It is one of the common reasons the company does not approve PAs. Pharmacy benefits don’t cover the required treatments or devices in this scenario. For example, a pharmacy benefit may cover the costs of drugs, but the operative equipment will not be covered. For this, you’ll have to make two PAs, one for the pharmacy benefits and the other for the medical benefits, to cover the costs of the devices.

Procedural Errors

Several errors during the procedure can cause the rejection of PA. For instance, a health plan might be considered for a specific non-emergency test. Whether the test was required or not, the health care services can only accept payment if the patient completes it before it’s been approved for PA.

Not Trying or Failing the Relevant Medication

Some health insurance companies often require providers to assess patients with trying or failing certain medications or treatments before the next option is considered. This might be a more expensive option. For example, a patient suffering from migraine issues needs to show over time that counter medications such as ibuprofen were taken before but did not work.

Review the Health Insurance Company’s Guidelines

health plan doctor hand on his headRemember that each health plan dances to its tune when you’re scratching your head over denial. Whether it’s a formal letter or an online portal, understanding your insurance company’s appeal process is your secret weapon for a hassle-free appeal journey.

It is always recommended to follow every company’s guidelines regarding appealing. Some health plan companies may require an appeal via formal letter, while others may require submitting an appeal via an online portal. So, always review your insurance company’s appeal process carefully.

Things to Consider Before Appealing to Health Care Services

Before diving into the appeal pool, take a moment. Check that patient contract; it holds the golden ticket to covered medical services. Gathering all those medical records is like having a solid backup – you’ll need them to paint the complete picture of medical necessity.

We might have discussed several reasons for the denial of prior authorization requests. There are still some things to be aware of when filing an appeal.

Here are some reasons you might have to consider before appealing to health care services,

Gathering Records of Patient’s Medical History

Before you file an appeal, the first thing to consider is to gather all the necessary information and files. These supporting documents include the patient’s medical record, history, diagnosis, and treatment plans.

Collecting Clinical Evidence from Care Providers

Like the patient’s medical history, the patient must collect all the relevant documents and clinical proof before submission. This includes the previous prior authorization request, provider’s note, orders, advice, cost of treatment, and patient’s consent.

Preparing a Compelling Draft

Lastly, developing a concise yet captivating letter is essential before submitting the appeal. It should describe to the insurance company why the required health insurance plan is critical to the patient’s treatment. It should also explain the specific reasons for denials while providing solid examples. So be sure to write a compelling letter that is describable and engaging.

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How to Rightfully File an Appeal for Prior Authorization

medical director filling a formFiling an appeal is like standing your ground. Understanding why is your first step if your health plan gives the thumbs-down to a treatment or medication. The appeal journey might be long, but for services covered by your health plan, it’s a journey worth taking.

When facing a rejection due to medical reasons or benefit restrictions. The patients and their advocates, like treating physicians, can appeal to health plans to reverse their decision. Moreover, patients have up to 180 days from the denial date to file an appeal. Similarly, health plans are supposed to inform members about appeal rights, but many patients need to be made aware of this or the effectiveness of the process.

Most of the time, the patients often ask doctors to handle the appeals. However, physician involvement rarely guarantees a positive outcome. It’s wise for patients and physicians to understand the details of a denial, including the reason, before committing to the appeals process due to its time-consuming nature. Denials related to services not covered in the patient’s contract can hardly be overturned on appeal. So, it is better to highlight the importance of reviewing the patient’s contract before intervening.

Physicians may be obligated to appeal in certain situations, like when directing a patient to the emergency department. Appeals are categorized as pre-service, post-service, or expedited, with the latter requiring a decision within 72 hours if the health plan agrees to expedite.

Appeal Tips:

Confidence is your best ally. Facing repeated denials? Don’t back down. While involving your doctor is common, remember it doesn’t guarantee success. Dive into the details of the denial, especially the why, including that ever-important factor – medical necessity.

Here are the tips:

1. It is guided always to be confident about yourself. Call the health plan’s medical director if your request gets denied time after time. This can often sway the decision in the patient’s favor, but it should only be a last resort.

2. Ensure the service being appealed isn’t explicitly excluded in the patient’s health plan contract.

3. Understand the levels and time frames of appeal for each health plan.

4. Appealing is a lengthy process, and staying calm is the best solution to your problem. This will enhance the treatment’s quality and improve your appeal’s outcomes as long as you stay less frustrated.

5. Maintain a log of denials organized by the health plan, analyze trends, and address systemic issues or seek clarification from specific plans.

What Should I Do Once the Appeal is Submitted?

medical necessity reviewing the doctor's requested appealSo, you’ve sent in your appeal – now what? Patience is your sidekick. Insurance companies take their time reviewing prior authorizations. Feel like it’s taking forever? Reach out. Stay in the loop, follow up, and express any concerns about the necessity of medical treatment. It’s your way of ensuring your appeal gets the attention it deserves in the ongoing appeal saga.

After you’ve submitted your appeal, it’s crucial to remain patient throughout the insurance company’s review process. Keep in mind that the resolution of prior authorization appeals can take time. You can follow up with the insurance company to check on the status of your appeal.

If the insurance company takes an extended period to respond, don’t hesitate to reach out and inquire about the progress. Prompt communication with the insurance company can often provide insights into the appeals process and whether additional information is required to evaluate the medical necessity of the requested service.

Understanding the specifics of the appeals process, as outlined in your insurance company’s guidelines, can help you navigate the waiting period more effectively. Stay informed, and if necessary, express your concerns regarding the medical necessity of the prior authorization, ensuring that your appeal receives the attention it deserves in the ongoing appeals process.

Navigating the Landscape of Health Plans:

Understanding the intricate details of health plans is paramount when navigating prior authorization. In this context, health plans refer to the specific policies and guidelines set by insurance companies. Navigating through the diverse requirements and restrictions of different health plans can significantly impact the success of a prior authorization appeal. This section delves into the nuances of various health plans, offering insights on how readers can align their approach with specific guidelines.

Consulting the Medical Director:

When persistent denials become a roadblock, seeking assistance from the medical director can be a strategic move. The medical director holds a pivotal role in the decision-making process of the health plan. This section guides how and when to involve the medical director, emphasizing their influential role in potentially overturning denials. Readers can find this section linked seamlessly after exploring general appeal tips, recognizing the medical director as a last resort for influencing decisions in favor of the patient.

Completing the Prior Authorization Form:

A critical step in the prior authorization process is accurately completing the necessary forms. This section is linked seamlessly after discussing the importance of gathering comprehensive patient records. Readers are guided through the significance of providing precise information on the prior authorization form to ensure a streamlined and successful process.

Navigating Requested Services:

Understanding the intricacies of requested services is essential for a successful prior authorization. This section is linked to the discussion on reasons for prior authorization rejections. It provides detailed insights into the common pitfalls and considerations when requesting specific medical treatments or devices. By navigating the complexities of requested services, readers can enhance their understanding of the prior authorization landscape.

Mastering Internal Appeal Procedures:

After introducing the appeal process, this section is seamlessly linked immediately after detailing the steps involved in filing an appeal. It guides readers through the internal appeal process, emphasizing the importance of adhering to health plan guidelines. Readers gain a comprehensive understanding of the internal appeal procedures, empowering them to navigate the complex appeals process effectively.

Exploring External Review Possibilities:

Towards the article’s conclusion, this section is introduced after discussing internal appeals. It provides information on the external review process as a last resort when internal avenues yield no results. By exploring external review possibilities, readers are made aware of additional options for challenging denials, ensuring a thorough exploration of available avenues.


In prior authorization appeals, the insurance company emerges as a key player shaping the path to successful resolutions. The journey involves deciphering the nuances of health plans, understanding the reasons behind denials, and strategically engaging with the medical director. The insurance company’s influence is pervasive through the meticulous process of gathering records, crafting compelling appeals, and navigating requested services.

As individuals embark on the appeals process, the collaborative dance with insurance companies becomes a focal point. Comprehending company-specific guidelines, adhering to procedural intricacies, and leveraging internal and external review options are paramount. In this intricate dance, individuals and insurance companies find common ground where informed advocacy and procedural understanding pave the way for equitable healthcare outcomes. The appeal journey underscores the shared responsibility to ensure that medical necessity, patient rights, and the role of insurance companies align harmoniously for a fair and just resolution.

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