Here is some advice regarding getting coverage for infertility testing. Consumers need to keep in mind that medical insurance companies are not your advocates. They make their money by keeping the premiums that you have paid, if you don't use them. Therefore, their goal is to keep as much of your money as they can (profit); and they have been doing a good job of it. Evaluation of their stock and company perfomance show that they are one of the best businesses to invest in because, despite a recession, they continue to make lots of money. That being said, here is one way that insurance companies shortchange infertility patients.
As many infertility patients know, once they determine that they have been unable to become pregnant, they need to undergo an evaluation. Also, patients undergoing higher level treatments, such as in vitro fertilization, are required to undergo testing as mandated by the FDA and CDC. In most cases, these tests are general health screening tests and not specifically infertility tests. They are tests such as infectious disease testing, hepatitis, AIDS, hormone testing, pelvic ultrasounds, etc. These are tests that are done for many reasons and for many diagnoses, not specifically or only for infertility. Coding requirements mandate that the most specific diagnosis is used when billing. Infertility, is not a very specific diagnosis. In most instances, there is a diagnosis that is a more specific illness, which as a consequence of their effect, can lead to or cause infertility. These are illnesses such as:
- irregular menstrual cycles
- polycystic ovarian syndrome
- sexually transmitted disease screening
- abnormal bleeding, endometriosis
- uterine fibroids, etc.
Make sure that your doctor or clinic is using the most specific diagnosis that they can.
In terms of insurance coverage, if you do not have infertility coverage, then insurance companies will not pay for infertility services. As mentioned above, many of the tests, if coded with the specific illness, are not infertility codes. Therefore, these tests should be covered. However, many, if not most, insurance companies will automatically flag your account if there is ANY reference to infertility. They then will deny all claims that can be related to infertility testing or treatment thereafter, including general health tests. Remember, their goal is to not pay for as much as possible and this is one way that they get away from paying for tests. Keep an eye on your EOB's, the statements you receive from your insurer that tells what they covered and did not cover. Also, check your test requisitions too and ask what diagnostic code they used. If they used an infertility code, ask if there is a more specific diagnosis code pertaining to your condition that they can use. Then if the lab test is denied, YOU need to contact your insurance company and file an appeal. It should be done in writing and keep all records of your attempts. Do not rely on the doctor's office to do this for you. Remember, you are the insurance company's client, NOT the doctor. You have more leverage than they do. Ultimately, if the insurance company denies a justified claim, that you have repeatedly appealed, you can go to the next level of appeal, which is the Commissioner of Insurance for your State and file a complaint.
Word of Caution! I am NOT advocating that you commit fraud. If there is no other diagnosis or illness that applies to your test, and infertility is the only diagnosis that can be used, then that is the correct diagnosis. In that case, the insurance company has the right to deny the claim. Do Not ask your doctor to lie about your condition by using another diagnosis code. Both you and your doctor can be criminally liable if you commit fraud. Remember, honesty is your greatest weapon when dealing with the insurance companies. They are required to be honest with you as well. If you are not honest, you have nothing to stand on to refute their denial. If you are, and your claim is legitimate, then the insurance company has to accept your claim. You are paying them for the services they have promised to provide. Be a wise and diligent consumer and make sure they are providing you with all the services you are entitled to.