Complaints and appeals procedures
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I am a UMP member and am concerned with how UMP handled a claim or other issue. What can I do about it?
We suggest you try calling first. Many issues can be resolved over the phone. If you would like to send a written appeal, see “How to submit an appeal” below.
Regence Customer Service
Washington State Rx Services
Eligibility, enrollment, premiums
Dissatisfaction with out-of-network-provider
Washington State Department of Health
Generally, an appeal is when you think the plan paid less for a claim than it should have, or didn’t cover a service you think it should have. Complaints are about quality of service (such as UMP Customer Service, or how you were treated by a provider). See more examples.
If you can’t determine if your issue is a complaint or appeal, do your best to explain the issue in your letter and send to the appropriate place as listed under “Where do I send an appeal or complaint?” below.
Complaints and appeals are handled differently by the plan. A complaint will be forwarded to whomever can best resolve or respond to your issue. For example, if your complaint is about…
- How a particular drug is covered: Washington State Rx Services
- How much the plan pays for a medical service: Regence (UMP medical administrator)
- Your premium, eligibility, or enrollment: PEBB Program
- How a healthcare provider treated you:
- If preferred/network: Regence
- If out-of-network/nonpreferred: Washington State Department of Health
Appeals are handled more formally than complaints. First- and second-level appeals are handled by the plan (Regence for medical services, Washington State Rx Services for prescription drugs). Independent (external) reviews are handled by outside companies that specialize in medical reviews and are contracted with the state but have no connection to UMP or the Health Care Authority.
Appeals are also subject to strict deadlines (see “What are the deadlines to send an appeal?” below). If you submit your appeal after the deadline, it will not be reviewed. While it’s a good idea to submit a complaint as soon as possible, there isn’t a formal deadline to do so.
You may call the plan first. Some issues can be handled over the phone, saving you time and hassle. Or you can just submit your appeal in writing or on the phone if the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction.
If you submit your appeal on the phone and want a written response, you need to say that during your call. It may be in your best interests to send a written appeal, as you can make sure that your explanation of what you want is clear and that you include all relevant information. See more about information you should include in your appeal.
Send first-level appeals and complaints about medical services to:
Business hours: Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time (PT)
Mail: Uniform Medical Plan
PO Box 2998
Tacoma, WA 98401-2998
Send first-level appeals and complaints about prescription drugs to:
Washington State Rx Services
Business hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT
Mail: Washington State Rx Services
PO Box 40168
Portland, OR 97240-0168
Send first-level appeals and complaints about the COE Program to:
Premera Blue Cross
Business hours: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT
Mail: Eligibility Appeals
Attn: Appeals Department - MS 123
PO Box 91102
Seattle, WA 98111-9102
Send second-level appeals to the contact information included in your first-level appeal response letter. Independent (external) review requests should be sent to the address in the second-level appeal response letter.
It is important to send your appeal to the right place. Sending it elsewhere could result in delays, even denial, due to the plan not receiving your appeal by the deadline. Since the plan must respond within 30 calendar days, a delayed receipt may mean the plan doesn’t have time to investigate your issues. Make sure you respond directly to any address or name inserted in a letter or other response from the plan.
You must send your initial appeal request (first-level appeal) no later than 180 days after you receive notice of the action leading to the appeal. See examples of appeals.
Subsequent appeal levels (second-level and external/independent review) are also subject to the 180-day deadline, counted from the date of the response letter of the previous appeal level.
The plan’s deadlines: When can I expect to hear back?
The plan is required to respond to first- and second-level appeals within 14 to 30 calendar days of receiving the appeal request. If the plan needs more time to make a decision, usually to request more information such as medical records, the plan will ask for your permission to extend the deadline.
Certain appeals have shorter time limits:
- Expedited (see “What is an expedited appeal?” below).
- Experimental services: If the claim denial was based on a determination that the service, drug, or device is experimental or investigational, the appeal decision will be made within 20 business days.
“Expedited” applies only to appeals, not complaints. An expedited appeal replaces the first- and second-level appeals. An expedited appeal is eligible for a 72-hour turnaround by the plan only when your provider determines you need a medication immediately that isn’t covered, or that the usual 30-day timeline could adversely affect your life, health, or ability to regain maximum function, or would subject you to severe pain that cannot be adequately managed without the disputed care or treatment. See more about what qualifies as an expedited appeal.
Expedited appeals must be requested by your provider by fax or phone only:
Fax: 1‑877‑663‑7526 (providers only)
Due to laws about the confidentiality of personal health information, we need written permission from you to communicate with anyone else about your appeal or complaint. If someone without permission calls or sends us a letter appealing on your behalf, we will process the appeal, but will respond only to the member or subscriber. See more about how to designate an authorized representative.