Citi Benefits Handbook
Claims and Appeals
Claims and Appeals for Aetna Medical Plans
All claims for benefits must be filed within certain time limits. Medical claims must be filed within two years of the date of service. The amount of time Aetna will take to make a decision on a claim will depend on the type of claim. Claims are processed and applied towards deductibles when appropriate in the order in which they are received from providers. Please note that this can differ from the order of the date of services.
Type of claim
Timeline after claim is filed
Post-service claims (for claims filed after the service has been received)
Decision within 30 days; one 15-day extension (notice of the need for an extension must be given before the end of the 30-day period)
Notice that more information is needed must be given within 30 days
You have 45 days to submit any additional information needed to process the claim1
Preservice claims (for services requiring precertification of services)
Decision within 15 days; one 15-day extension (notice of the need for an extension must be given before the end of the 15-day period)
Notice that more information is needed must be given within five days
You have 45 days to submit any additional information needed to process the claim1
Urgent care claims (for services requiring precertification of services where delay could jeopardize life or health)
Decision made within 72 hours
Notice that more information is needed must be given within 24 hours
You have 48 hours to submit any additional information needed to process the claim; you will be notified of the decision within 48 hours of receipt of the additional information
Concurrent care claims (for ongoing treatment)
Decision made within 24 hours for urgent care treatment
Decision made sufficiently in advance for all other claims
1 The time period allowed to make a decision is suspended pending receipt of additional information.
Contact your medical plan Claims Administrator to obtain a claims appeal form. For claims regarding eligibility or enrollment in a plan, call the Citi Benefits Center through ConnectOne at 1 (800) 881-3938. See the For More Information section for detailed instructions, including TDD and international assistance.
The form explains how and when to file a claim.
If your claim is denied, in whole or in part, you will receive a written explanation detailing:
  • The specific reasons for the denial;
  • The specific references in the plan documentation on which the denial is based;
  • A description of additional material or information you must provide to complete your claim and the reasons why that information is necessary;
  • The steps to be taken to submit your claim for review;
  • The procedure for further review of your claim; and
  • A statement explaining your right to bring a civil action under section 502(a) of ERISA after exhaustion of the plan's appeals procedure.
Appeals for Aetna Medical Plans
Under the plan, you may file claims for plan benefits and appeal adverse claim determinations. Any reference to "you" in this "Claims and appeals for Aetna medical plans" section includes you and your Authorized Representative. An "Authorized Representative" is a person you authorize, in writing, to act on your behalf. The plan will also recognize a court order giving a person authority to submit claims on your behalf. In the case of an urgent care claim, a health care professional with knowledge of your condition may always act as your Authorized Representative.
If your claim is denied in whole or in part, you will receive a written notice of the denial from Aetna Life Insurance Company (Aetna). The notice will explain the reason for the denial and the appeal procedures available under the plan.
Urgent Care Claims
An "Urgent Care Claim" is any claim for medical care or treatment for which the application of the time periods for making non-urgent care determinations could seriously jeopardize your life or health or your ability to regain maximum function, or, in the opinion of a physician with knowledge of your medical condition, would subject you to severe pain that cannot be adequately managed without the care or treatment that is the subject of the claim.
If the plan requires advance approval of a service, supply or procedure before a benefit will be payable, and if Aetna or your physician determines that it is an Urgent Care Claim, you will be notified of the decision, whether adverse or not, as soon as possible but not later than 72 hours after the claim is received.
If there is not sufficient information to decide the claim, you will be notified of the information necessary to complete the claim as soon as possible, but not later than 24 hours after receipt of the claim. You will be given a reasonable additional amount of time, but not less than 48 hours, to provide the information, and you will be notified of the decision not later than 48 hours after the end of that additional time period (or after receipt of the information, if earlier).
Other Claims (Pre-Service and Post-Service)
If the plan requires you to obtain advance approval of a non-urgent service, supply or procedure before a benefit will be payable, a request for advance approval is considered a pre-service claim. You will be notified of the decision not later than 15 days after receipt of the pre-service claim.
For other claims (post-service claims), you will be notified of the decision not later than 30 days after receipt of the claim.
For either a pre-service or a post-service claim, these time periods may be extended up to an additional 15 days due to circumstances outside Aetna's control. In that case, you will be notified of the extension before the end of the initial 15 or 30-day period. For example, they may be extended because you have not submitted sufficient information, in which case you will be notified of the specific information necessary and given an additional period of at least 45 days after receiving the notice to furnish that information. You will be notified of Aetna's claim decision no later than 15 days after the end of that additional period (or after receipt of the information, if earlier).
For pre-service claims which name a specific claimant, medical condition, and service or supply for which approval is requested, and which are submitted to an Aetna representative responsible for handling benefit matters, but which otherwise fail to follow the plan's procedures for filing pre-service claims, you will be notified of the failure within 5 days (within 24 hours in the case of an urgent care claim) and of the proper procedures to be followed. The notice may be oral unless you request written notification.
Ongoing Course of Treatment
If you have received pre-certification for an ongoing course of treatment, you will be notified in advance if the previously authorized course of treatment is intended to be terminated or reduced so that you will have an opportunity to appeal any decision to Aetna and receive a decision on that appeal before the termination or reduction takes effect. If the course of treatment involves urgent care, and you request an extension of the course of treatment at least 24 hours before its expiration, you will be notified of the decision within 24 hours after receipt of the request.
Health Claims — Standard Appeals
As an individual enrolled in the plan, you have the right to file an appeal from an Adverse Benefit Determination relating to service(s) you have received or could have received from your health care provider under the plan.
An "Adverse Benefit Determination" is defined as a denial, reduction, termination of, or failure to, provide or make payment (in whole or in part) for a service, supply or benefit. Such Adverse Benefit Determination may be based on:
  • Your eligibility for coverage, including a retrospective termination of coverage (whether or not there is an adverse effect on any particular benefit);
  • Coverage determinations, including plan limitations or exclusions;
  • The results of any utilization review activities;
  • A decision that the service or supply is experimental or investigational; or
  • A decision that the service or supply is not medically necessary.
A "Final Internal Adverse Benefit Determination" is defined as an Adverse Benefit Determination that has been upheld by the appropriate named fiduciary (Aetna) at the completion of the internal appeals process, or an Adverse Benefit Determination for which the internal appeals process has been exhausted.
Exhaustion of Internal Appeals Process
Generally, you are required to complete all appeal processes of the plan before being able to obtain External Review or bring an action in litigation. However, if Aetna, or the Plan or its designee, does not strictly adhere to all claim determination and appeal requirements under applicable federal law, you are considered to have exhausted the plan's appeal requirements ("Deemed Exhaustion") and may proceed with External Review or may pursue any available remedies under §502(a) of ERISA or under state law, as applicable.
There is an exception to the Deemed Exhaustion rule. Your claim or internal appeal may not go straight to External Review if:
  • A rule violation was minor and is not likely to influence a decision or harm you; and
  • It was for a good cause or was beyond Aetna's or the plan's or its designee's control; and
  • It was part of an ongoing good faith exchange between you and Aetna or the plan.
This exception is not available if the rule violation is part of a pattern or practice of violations by Aetna or the Plan.
You may request a written explanation of the violation from the plan or Aetna, and the plan or Aetna must provide such explanation within 10 days, including a specific description of its bases, if any, for asserting that the violation should not cause the internal claims and appeals process to be deemed exhausted. If an External Reviewer or a court rejects your request for immediate review on the basis that the plan met the standards for the exception, you have the right to resubmit and pursue the internal appeal of the claim. In such a case, within a reasonable time after the External Reviewer or court rejects the claim for immediate review (not to exceed 10 days), you will receive notice of the opportunity to resubmit and pursue the internal appeal of the claim. Time periods for re-filing the claim shall begin to run upon your receipt of such notice.
Full and Fair Review of Claim Determinations and Appeals
Aetna will provide you, free of charge, with any new or additional evidence considered, relied upon, or generated by Aetna (or at the direction of Aetna), or any new or additional rationale as soon as possible and sufficiently in advance of the date on which the notice of Final Internal Adverse Benefit Determination is provided, to give you a reasonable opportunity to respond prior to that date.
You may file an appeal in writing to Aetna at the address provided in this booklet, or, if your appeal is of an urgent nature, you may call Aetna's Member Services Unit at the toll-free phone number on your ID card. Your request should include the group name (that is, your employer), your name, member ID, or other identifying information shown on the front of the Explanation of Benefits form, and any other comments, documents, records and other information you would like to have considered, whether or not submitted in connection with the initial claim.
An Aetna representative may call you or your health care provider to obtain medical records and/or other pertinent information in order to respond to your appeal.
You will have 180 days following receipt of an Adverse Benefit Determination to appeal the determination to Aetna. You will be notified of the decision not later than 15 days (for pre-service claims) or 30 days (for post-service claims) after the appeal is received. You may submit written comments, documents, records and other information relating to your claim, whether or not the comments, documents, records or other information were submitted in connection with the initial claim. A copy of the specific rule, guideline or protocol relied upon in the Adverse Benefit Determination will be provided free of charge upon request by you or your Authorized Representative. You may also request that Aetna provide you, free of charge, copies of all documents, records and other information relevant to the claim.
If your claim involves urgent care, an expedited appeal may be initiated by a telephone call to the phone number included in your denial, or to Aetna's Member Services. Aetna's Member Services telephone number is on your Identification Card. You or your Authorized Representative may appeal urgent care claim denials either orally or in writing. All necessary information, including the appeal decision, will be communicated between you or your Authorized Representative and Aetna by telephone, facsimile, or other similar method. You will be notified of the decision not later than 36 hours after the appeal is received.
If you are dissatisfied with the appeal decision on an urgent care claim, you may file a second level appeal with Aetna. You will be notified of the decision not later than 36 hours after the appeal is received.
If you are dissatisfied with a pre-service or post-service appeal decision, you may file a second level appeal with Aetna within 60 days of receipt of the level one appeal decision. Aetna will notify you of the decision not later than 15 days (for pre-service claims) or 30 days (for post-service claims) after the appeal is received.
If you do not agree with the Final Internal Adverse Benefit Determination on review, you have the right to bring a civil action under Section 502(a) of ERISA, provided that you file any lawsuit or similar enforcement proceeding, commenced in any forum, within 12 consecutive months after the date of receiving a final determination on review of your claim or, if earlier, within two years from the date on which you were aware, or should have been aware, of the claim at issue in the suit.
The two-year limitation shall be increased by any time a claim or appeal on the issue is under consideration by the appropriate fiduciary. If any different period to begin suit is specified in an insurance contract forming part of the Plans or any shorter period is specified in the rules of the Claims Administrator, that period will apply to proceedings against the insurer or with regard to the ruling of that Claims Administrator, respectively.
Health Claims — Voluntary Appeals
External Review
"External Review" is a review of an eligible Adverse Benefit Determination or a Final Internal Adverse Benefit Determination by an Independent Review Organization/External Review Organization (ERO) or by the State Insurance Commissioner, if applicable.
A "Final External Review Decision" is a determination by an ERO at the conclusion of an External Review.
You must complete all of the levels of standard appeal described above before you can request External Review, other than in a case of Deemed Exhaustion. Subject to verification procedures that the plan may establish, your Authorized Representative may act on your behalf in filing and pursuing this voluntary appeal.
You may file a voluntary appeal for External Review of any Adverse Benefit Determination or any Final Internal Adverse Benefit Determination that qualifies as set forth below.
The notice of Adverse Benefit Determination or Final Internal Adverse Benefit Determination that you receive from Aetna will describe the process to follow if you wish to pursue an External Review, and will include a copy of the Request for External Review Form.
You must submit the Request for External Review Form to Aetna within 123 calendar days of the date you received the Adverse Benefit Determination or Final Internal Adverse Benefit Determination notice. If the last filing date would fall on a Saturday, Sunday or federal holiday, the last filing date is extended to the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or federal holiday. You also must include a copy of the notice and all other pertinent information that supports your request.
If you file a voluntary appeal, any applicable statute of limitations will be tolled while the appeal is pending. The filing of a claim will have no effect on your rights to any other benefits under the plan. However, the appeal is voluntary and you are not required to undertake it before pursuing legal action.
If you choose not to file for voluntary review, the plan will not assert that you have failed to exhaust your administrative remedies because of that choice.
Request for External Review
The External Review process under this plan gives you the opportunity to receive review of an Adverse Benefit Determination (including a Final Internal Adverse Benefit Determination) conducted pursuant to applicable law. Your request will be eligible for External Review if the claim decision involves medical judgment and the following are satisfied:
  • Aetna, or the Plan or its designee, does not strictly adhere to all claim determination and appeal requirements under federal law (except for minor violations); or
  • the standard levels of appeal have been exhausted; or
  • the appeal relates to a rescission, defined as a cancellation or discontinuance of coverage which has retroactive effect.
An Adverse Benefit Determination based upon your eligibility is not eligible for External Review.
If upon the final standard level of appeal, the coverage denial is upheld and it is determined that you are eligible for External Review, you will be informed in writing of the steps necessary to request an External Review.
An independent review organization refers the case for review by a neutral, independent clinical reviewer with appropriate expertise in the area in question. The decision of the independent external expert reviewer is binding on you, Aetna and the Plan unless otherwise allowed by law.
Preliminary Review
Within 5 business days following the date of receipt of the request, Aetna must provide a preliminary review determining: you were covered under the plan at the time the service was requested or provided, the determination does not relate to eligibility, you have exhausted the internal appeals process (unless Deemed Exhaustion applies), and you have provided all paperwork necessary to complete the External Review and you are eligible for external review.
Within one business day after completion of the preliminary review, Aetna must issue to you a notification in writing. If the request is complete but not eligible for External Review, such notification will include the reasons for its ineligibility and contact information for the Employee Benefits Security Administration (toll-free number 866-444-EBSA (3272)). If the request is not complete, such notification will describe the information or materials needed to make the request complete and Aetna must allow you to perfect the request for External Review within the 123 calendar days filing period or within the 48 hour period following the receipt of the notification, whichever is later.
Referral to ERO
Aetna will assign an ERO accredited as required under federal law, to conduct the External Review. The assigned ERO will timely notify you in writing of the request's eligibility and acceptance for External Review, and will provide an opportunity for you to submit in writing within 10 business days following the date of receipt, additional information that the ERO must consider when conducting the External Review. Within one (1) business day after making the decision, the ERO must notify you, Aetna and the Plan.
The ERO will review all of the information and documents timely received. In reaching a decision, the assigned ERO will review the claim and not be bound by any decisions or conclusions reached during the plan's internal claims and appeals process. In addition to the documents and information provided, the assigned ERO, to the extent the information or documents are available and the ERO considers them appropriate, will consider the following in reaching a decision:
  • Your medical records;
  • The attending health care professional's recommendation;
  • Reports from appropriate health care professionals and other documents submitted by the plan or issuer, you, or your treating provider;
  • The terms of your plan to ensure that the ERO's decision is not contrary to the terms of the plan, unless the terms are inconsistent with applicable law;
  • Appropriate practice guidelines, which must include applicable evidence-based standards and may include any other practice guidelines developed by the federal government, national or professional medical societies, boards, and associations;
  • Any applicable clinical review criteria developed and used by Aetna, unless the criteria are inconsistent with applicable law; and
  • The opinion of the ERO's clinical reviewer or reviewers after considering the information described in this notice to the extent the information or documents are available and the clinical reviewer or reviewers consider appropriate.
The assigned ERO must provide written notice of the Final External Review Decision within 45 days after the ERO receives the request for the External Review. The ERO must deliver the notice of Final External Review Decision to you, Aetna and the Plan.
After a Final External Review Decision, the ERO must maintain records of all claims and notices associated with the External Review process for six years. An ERO must make such records available for examination by the claimant, plan, or state or federal oversight agency upon request, except where such disclosure would violate state or federal privacy laws.
Upon receipt of a notice of a Final External Review Decision reversing the Adverse Benefit Determination or Final Internal Adverse Benefit Determination, the plan immediately must provide coverage or payment (including immediately authorizing or immediately paying benefits) for the claim.
Expedited External Review
The plan must allow you to request an expedited External Review at the time you receive:
  • An Adverse Benefit Determination if the Adverse Benefit Determination involves a medical condition for which the timeframe for completion of an expedited internal appeal would seriously jeopardize your life or health or would jeopardize your ability to regain maximum function and you have filed a request for an expedited internal appeal; or
  • A Final Internal Adverse Benefit Determination, if you have a medical condition where the timeframe for completion of a standard External Review would seriously jeopardize your life or health or would jeopardize your ability to regain maximum function, or if the Final Internal Adverse Benefit Determination concerns an admission, availability of care, continued stay, or health care item or service for which you received emergency services, but have not been discharged from a facility.
Immediately upon receipt of the request for expedited External Review, Aetna will determine whether the request meets the reviewability requirements set forth above for standard External Review. Aetna must immediately send you a notice of its eligibility determination.
Referral of Expedited Review to ERO
Upon a determination that a request is eligible for External Review following preliminary review, Aetna will assign an ERO. The ERO shall render a decision as expeditiously as your medical condition or circumstances require, but in no event more than 72 hours after the ERO receives the request for an expedited External Review. If the notice is not in writing, within 48 hours after the date of providing that notice, the assigned ERO must provide written confirmation of the decision to you, Aetna and the Plan.