ERISA Appeal FAQs

ERISA, the federal law governing most employer-sponsored benefits (e.g., health, disability or life insurance, or pension or retirement benefits) gives participants the right to appeal the Plan or insurer's denial of payment or benefits (in legalese, an "adverse benefit determination").  Plans and insurers are required to be transparent about participants' appeal rights.  Unfortunately, adverse benefit …

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Court of Appeals Clarifies Policy Causation Language In Favor Of The Insured

When language in one part of your ERISA policy says your claim is covered, can the company rely on language elsewhere in the policy to deny your claim?  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently answered “no.”  In Dowdy v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., the court ruled the conflicting language about what caused the insured's …

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Can The Company Deny Your ERISA Claim “Because We Said So?”

Who decides whether a person’s entitled to coverage under an ERISA plan?  Given ERISA gives plan participants the right to take the company to court to dispute coverage denials, you might think the judge decides.  But the answer’s not that simple.  Often, the insurer itself can decide whether you’re covered under the terms of the …

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Insurance Regulators Investigating Aetna for Training Employees to Deny Coverage Without Reviewing Patient’s Medical Records

Aetna, the country’s third largest health insurer, is under investigation by state insurance regulators following Aetna’s admission that it routinely denies medical treatment coverage without reviewing the insured’s medical records. Aetna’s admission surfaced in a lawsuit by a California man who claimed Aetna improperly denied coverage for his medical treatment. The insured has a rare …

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New ERISA Rule Restores Important Rights to Insureds

For insureds, ERISA (which governs most employer-sponsored insurance) has a serious downside.  Insureds and plan participants who dispute the company’s denial of their claims for coverage or benefits must submit to ERISA’s administrative appeal process before they can file a lawsuit challenging the company’s decision.  This can disadvantage the participant because failure to dot i’s …

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