"My doctor says I need a treatment, but my insurer won't cover it. What can I do?"

Q: "My doctor says that I need a particular medical treatment, but my health insurance company won't cover the cost. Is there anything I can do?"

A: Yes, there definitely is. Contact your health insurer, tell them you want to file an appeal, and ask what you need to do to start the process.

Then collect materials to support your argument, such as letters from your doctors describing why this is the best treatment for you, any medical journal articles or studies showing the treatment's effectiveness, etc.

You may also want to point out the health problems that will or can arise if the company doesn't pay for the treatment. Be sure to provide and estimate of the costs of treating those problems, especially if those costs would be significantly higher than paying for the treatment.

After you send in your appeal to your insurer, don't give up. Most people don't win the first round, but the odds of winning increase as you reach higher levels of appeals. The change of winning is highest when your appeal reaches the final level, called an "independent review organization."

For more tips on appeals, including templates, sample letters and detailed pointers, please see the appeals section of our website or call our consumer advocates at 1-800-562-6900. (If you live in a state other than Washington, please contact your own state's insurance department.)

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