Cal. Ins. Code § 10169

Current through 2020 Legislative Session
Section 10169
(a) Commencing January 1, 2001, there is hereby established in the department the Independent Medical Review System.
(b) For the purposes of this chapter, "disputed health care service" means any health care service eligible for coverage and payment under a disability insurance contract that has been denied, modified, or delayed by a decision of the insurer, or by one of its contracting providers, in whole or in part due to a finding that the service is not medically necessary. A decision regarding a disputed health care service relates to the practice of medicine and is not a coverage decision. A disputed health care service does not include services provided by a group or individual policy of vision- or dental-only coverage, except to the extent that (1) the service involves the practice of medicine, or (2) is provided pursuant to a contract with a disability insurer that covers hospital, medical, or surgical benefits. If an insurer, or one of its contracting providers, issues a decision denying, modifying, or delaying health care services, based in whole or in part on a finding that the proposed health care services are not a covered benefit under the contract that applies to the insured, the statement of decision shall clearly specify the provision in the contract that excludes that coverage.
(c) For the purposes of this chapter, "coverage decision" means the approval or denial of health care services by a disability insurer, or by one of its contracting entities, substantially based on a finding that the provision of a particular service is included or excluded as a covered benefit under the terms and conditions of the disability insurance contract. A coverage decision does not encompass a disability insurer or contracting provider decision regarding a disputed health care service.
(d)
(1) All insured grievances involving a disputed health care service are eligible for review under the Independent Medical Review System if the requirements of this article are met. If the department finds that an insured grievance involving a disputed health care service does not meet the requirements of this article for review under the Independent Medical Review System, the insured request for review shall be treated as a request for the department to review the grievance. All other insured grievances, including grievances involving coverage decisions, remain eligible for review by the department.
(2) In any case in which an insured or provider asserts that a decision to deny, modify, or delay health care services was based, in whole or in part, on consideration of medical necessity, the department shall have the final authority to determine whether the grievance is more properly resolved pursuant to an independent medical review as provided under this article.
(3) The department shall be the final arbiter when there is a question as to whether an insured grievance is a disputed health care service or a coverage decision. The department shall establish a process to complete an initial screening of an insured grievance. If there appears to be any medical necessity issue, the grievance shall be resolved pursuant to an independent medical review as provided under this article.
(e) Every disability insurance contract that is issued, amended, renewed, or delivered in this state on or after January 1, 2000, shall provide an insured with the opportunity to seek an independent medical review whenever health care services have been denied, modified, or delayed by the insurer, or by one of its contracting providers, if the decision was based in whole or in part on a finding that the proposed health care services are not medically necessary. For purposes of this article, an insured may designate an agent to act on his or her behalf. The provider may join with or otherwise assist the insured in seeking an independent medical review, and may advocate on behalf of the insured.
(f) Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare + Choice products shall not be excluded unless expressly preempted by federal law.
(g) The department may seek to integrate the quality of care and consumer protection provisions, including remedies, of the Independent Medical Review System with related dispute resolution procedures of other health care agency programs, including the Medicare program, in a way that minimizes the potential for duplication, conflict, and added costs. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to limit any rights conferred upon insureds under this chapter.
(h) The independent medical review process authorized by this article is in addition to any other procedures or remedies that may be available.
(i) Every disability insurer shall prominently display in every insurer member handbook or relevant informational brochure, in every insurance contract, on insured evidence of coverage forms, on copies of insurer procedures for resolving grievances, on letters of denials issued by either the insurer or its contracting organization, and on all written responses to grievances, information concerning the right of an insured to request an independent medical review when the insured believes that health care services have been improperly denied, modified, or delayed by the insurer, or by one of its contracting providers. The department's telephone number, 1-800-927-4357, and Internet Web site, www.insurance.ca.gov, shall also be displayed.
(j) An insured may apply to the department for an independent medical review when all of the following conditions are met:
(1)
(A) The insured's provider has recommended a health care service as medically necessary, or
(B) The insured has received urgent care or emergency services that a provider determined was medically necessary, or
(C) The insured, in the absence of a provider recommendation under subparagraph (A) or the receipt of urgent care or emergency services by a provider under subparagraph (B), has been seen by a contracting provider for the diagnosis or treatment of the medical condition for which the insured seeks independent review. The insurer shall expedite access to a contracting provider upon request of an insured. The contracting provider need not recommend the disputed health care service as a condition for the insured to be eligible for an independent review.

For purposes of this article, the insured's provider may be a noncontracting provider. However, the insurer shall have no liability for payment of services provided by a noncontracting provider, except as provided pursuant to Section 10169.3.

(2) The disputed health care service has been denied, modified, or delayed by the insurer, or by one of its contracting providers, based in whole or in part on a decision that the health care service is not medically necessary.
(3) The insured has filed a grievance with the insurer or its contracting provider, and the disputed decision is upheld or the grievance remains unresolved after 30 days. The insured shall not be required to participate in the insurer's grievance process for more than 30 days. In the case of a grievance that requires expedited review, the insured shall not be required to participate in the insurer's grievance process for more than three days.
(k) An insured may apply to the department for an independent medical review of a decision to deny, modify, or delay health care services, based in whole or in part on a finding that the disputed health care services are not medically necessary, within six months of any of the qualifying periods or events under subdivision (j). The commissioner may extend the application deadline beyond six months if the circumstances of a case warrant the extension.
(l) The insured shall pay no application or processing fees of any kind.
(m) As part of its notification to the insured regarding a disposition of the insured's grievance that denies, modifies, or delays health care services, the insurer shall provide the insured with a one- or two-page application form approved by the department, and an addressed envelope, which the insured may return to initiate an independent medical review. The insurer shall include on the form any information required by the department to facilitate the completion of the independent medical review, such as the insured's diagnosis or condition, the nature of the disputed health care service sought by the insured, a means to identify the insured's case, and any other material information. The form shall also include the following:
(1) Notice that a decision not to participate in the independent review process may cause the insured to forfeit any statutory right to pursue legal action against the insurer regarding the disputed health care service.
(2) A statement indicating the insured's consent to obtain any necessary medical records from the insurer, any of its contracting providers, and any noncontracting provider the insured may have consulted on the matter, to be signed by the insured.
(3) Notice of the insured's right to provide information or documentation, either directly or through the insured's provider, regarding any of the following:
(A) A provider recommendation indicating that the disputed health care service is medically necessary for the insured's medical condition.
(B) Medical information or justification that a disputed health care service, on an urgent care or emergency basis, was medically necessary for the insured's medical condition.
(C) Reasonable information supporting the insured's position that the disputed health care service is or was medically necessary for the insured's medical condition, including all information provided to the insured by the insurer or any of its contracting providers, still in the possession of the insured, concerning an insurer or provider decision regarding disputed health care services, and a copy of any materials the insured submitted to the insurer, still in the possession of the insured, in support of the grievance, as well as any additional material that the insured believes is relevant.
(4) A section designed to collect information on the insured's ethnicity, race, and primary language spoken that includes both of the following:
(A) A statement of intent indicating that the information is used for statistics only, in order to ensure that all insureds get the best care possible.
(B) A statement indicating that providing this information is optional and will not affect the independent medical review process in any way.
(n) Upon notice from the department that the insured has applied for an independent medical review, the insurer or its contracting providers, shall provide to the independent medical review organization designated by the department a copy of all of the following documents within three business days of the insurer's receipt of the department's notice of a request by an insured for an independent review:
(1)
(A) A copy of all of the insured's medical records in the possession of the insurer or its contracting providers relevant to each of the following:
(i) The insured's medical condition.
(ii) The health care services being provided by the insurer and its contracting providers for the condition.
(iii) The disputed health care services requested by the insured for the condition.
(B) Any newly developed or discovered relevant medical records in the possession of the insurer or its contracting providers after the initial documents are provided to the independent medical review organization shall be forwarded immediately to the independent medical review organization. The insurer shall concurrently provide a copy of medical records required by this subparagraph to the insured or the insured's provider, if authorized by the insured, unless the offer of medical records is declined or otherwise prohibited by law. The confidentiality of all medical record information shall be maintained pursuant to applicable state and federal laws.
(2) A copy of all information provided to the insured by the insurer and any of its contracting providers concerning insurer and provider decisions regarding the insured's condition and care, and a copy of any materials the insured or the insured's provider submitted to the insurer and to the insurer's contracting providers in support of the insured's request for disputed health care services. This documentation shall include the written response to the insured's grievance. The confidentiality of any insured medical information shall be maintained pursuant to applicable state and federal laws.
(3) A copy of any other relevant documents or information used by the insurer or its contracting providers in determining whether disputed health care services should have been provided, and any statements by the insurer and its contracting providers explaining the reasons for the decision to deny, modify, or delay disputed health care services on the basis of medical necessity. The insurer shall concurrently provide a copy of documents required by this paragraph, except for any information found by the commissioner to be legally privileged information, to the insured and the insured's provider. The department and the independent medical review organization shall maintain the confidentiality of any information found by the commissioner to be the proprietary information of the insurer.
(o) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2017.

Ca. Ins. Code § 10169

Amended by Stats 2016 ch 86 (SB 1171),s 206, eff. 1/1/2017.
Added by Stats 2015 ch 348 (AB 1515),s 19, eff. 1/1/2016.