Understanding claim denials and appeals can be a daunting task. In an article I recently read on, which covered some recent analysis regarding the transparency data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), they gave some insights into the claims denial rates and appeal processes for non-group qualified health plans (QHPs) offered on Let's dive into the key findings of the articles and analysis and shed light on the challenges consumers face in obtaining the healthcare coverage they deserve.

Claims Denials: A Widespread Issue

According to the data collected, nearly 17% of in-network claims submitted to insurers in 2021 were denied. However, the denial rates varied significantly, ranging from as low as 2% to a staggering 49%. This wide range highlights the disparities in how insurers handle claims and underscores the need for transparency in the system.

Top Reasons for Denials:

  1. Excluded Services: Approximately 14% of denials were due to the claim service performed not being covered by the insurance plan.
  2. Lack of Preauthorization or Referral: Around 8% of denials occurred because the necessary preauthorization, or referral, was not obtained before seeking treatment.
  3. Medical Necessity: Only about 2% of denials were based on medical necessity, indicating that most denials were not due to the medical appropriateness of the requested treatment.

Limited Appeals and Upheld Denials:

One concerning finding was the low rate of consumer appeals for denied claims. In 2021, consumers appealed less than two-tenths of 1% of denied in-network claims. Even more disheartening is that insurers upheld the majority (59%) of denials on appeal, leaving consumers with little recourse to challenge the decision.

The Need for Transparency and Oversight:

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates transparency data reporting by non-grandfathered employer-sponsored health plans and non-group plans sold on and off the marketplace. However, the federal government's implementation of this requirement has been limited. The transparency data collected focuses primarily on the number of claims submitted, denied, and appealed without providing detailed information on claim types or outcomes.

Without comprehensive transparency and oversight, consumers lack crucial information about how well marketplace plans pay claims, and insurers with high denial rates face no consequences. This information gap hinders the ability for consumers' to make informed choices and holds insurers accountable for their claims practices.


Understanding claims, denials, and appeals is crucial for individuals seeking effective healthcare coverage. The analysis of transparency data from highlights the challenges consumers face, with significant variations in denial rates and limited success in appealing denials. For anyone to ensure fairness and transparency in the healthcare system, it is crucial for the federal government to expand and revise transparency data reporting requirements and use the collected data for oversight purposes. By doing so, consumers can make informed decisions about their insurance coverage, and insurers can be held accountable for their claims practices, ultimately leading to a more equitable healthcare landscape.


The information provided in this blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Organizations should consult with legal and healthcare professionals to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and guidelines.

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