CA Orders Anthem To Stop Trying To Collect On Old Overpayments

CA Orders Anthem To Stop Trying To Collect On Old Overpayments

On July 16, 2012, California Department of Managed Health Care ordered Anthem Blue Cross to stop trying to collect millions in reimbursement from providers for medical claims the health plan thinks were overpaid.

Avym announces free executive webinars designed to examine the California Department of Managed Health Care’s order and discuss the profound impact of the entire overpayment recoupment market, estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

State regulators ordered Anthem Blue Cross on July, 16 2012 to stop trying to collect millions in reimbursement from providers for medical claims the health plan alleges were overpaid.

California State law allows health plans to seek reimbursement for overpaid medical claims within a year of the payment date. In order for a plan to collect on claims more than a year old, it must demonstrate fraud or misrepresentation by the provider.

Earlier this year, the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) investigated collection attempts by Anthem Blue Cross between 2008 and 2011 and found the plan tried to collect overpayments from at least 535 providers for claims that were more than a year old. Anthem did not provide evidence of fraud or misrepresentation, the agency said in a news release Monday.

The plan alleged providers had improperly coded the claims using upcoding, unbundling or miscoding procedures, the cease-and-desist order shows.

Anthem, which is based in Thousand Oaks, CA, tried to collect payments from another 13 providers who allegedly had billed for services they had not rendered.

“Health care providers should not face unexpected demands for reimbursement of medical claims they believe were appropriately paid years ago,” agency director Brent Barnhart said in the release. “Anthem’s recoupment practices violate California law and are unfair to providers who are acting in good faith.”

Anthem spokesman Darrel Ng stressed in a prepared statement that the issue does not involve patient care or safety: “The issue is about Anthem Blue Cross’s efforts to keep health care affordable,” he said. “Anthem Blue Cross believes medical providers should be compensated for services provided, but should not receive payment twice for the same procedure.”

According to Mr. Ng, Anthem sought reimbursement for overpayments due to double billing which is consistent with guidelines from the American Medical Association.  “We will closely examine today’s action by DMHC and are considering our options,” he said.

Many providers are still trying to figure out what to do in light of the DMHC’s order.  The California Medical Association (CMA), which made the initial request to the DMHC to investigate, issued a press release urging the DMHC to take further action, including imposing heavy fines to deter future abuses. CMA is also asking DMHC to require Anthem refund to physicians any overpayments collected in violation of the law.

No decision has been made about whether the collected alleged overpayments will have repaid, but DHMC offered this advice: If a provider receives (or has received) a notice from Anthem (or any plan) requesting recoupment of alleged overpayments from claims older than one year, they should first file an appeal with the plan. If the appeal is unsuccessful, the plan is non-responsive or they are unsatisfied with the response, the provider should file a complaint with the DMHC Provider Complaint unit at:

This comes on the heels of Anthem’s recent troubles with the CA DMHC.  In January of 2012, Anthem was ordered pay doctors and hospitals money owed for services going back to 2007.  The action is a result of Anthem’s refusal to remediate providers following a financial claims audit that identified errors in payment of medical claims

This is in addition to a lawsuit, intended to be a class action, filed by consumer advocate group Consumer Watchdog.  the complaint challenges alleged “bait and switch” tactics affecting more than 100,000 individual plan members hit by deductible increases and other changes in May. It also targets other changes that allow Blue Cross to alter terms of health plan contracts several times in a year, with 60 days’ notice.

What does this mean to overpayment request by payors?  AVYM offers free webinars that will examine the importance of appealing overpayment requests, including an analysis of the GAO Report findings “When denied reimbursement by an insurance company, one of the biggest mistakes made is not appealing the decision. When denied reimbursement for services you have the right to appeal and the Insurance Company/Plan Administrator is required to explain why they denied the claim. Doing so often pays off, with an estimated 59 percent of appeals being decided in favor of the claimant.”

Avym webinars will:

  • Focus on the number one healthcare dispute right now in the U.S. against health plans, providers and patients as well as the relevance of recent US Supreme Court decisions and their effects on claims denials, audits, and litigation of claim disputes. 77% of insured Americans under employer sponsored health plans are affected by these issues;
  • Analyze the new federal health reform law, PPACA claim regulations, which have adopted ERISA law as the minimum claim regulations standard for all health plans which now includes individual market claims outside of Medicare;
  • Analyze and discuss ERISA claim regulation which, for the last 36 years, has provided very specific provisions regulating the “circumstances which may result in disqualification, ineligibility, or denial or loss of benefits”;

To find out more about ERISA/PPACA Claims and Appeals Compliance Services from AVYM please click here.

Located in Los Angeles, CA, AVYM is a leading provider of services focusing entirely on the resolution of denied or disputed medical insurance claims by participating in the nation’s first ERISA PPACA Claims Appeals Certification program.  AVYM also offers free Webinars, basic and advanced educational seminars and on-site claims specialist certification programs for doctors, hospitals and commercial companies, as well as numerous pending national ERISA class action litigation support.




Maurice D

I recently had this done to me and I’m in the process of appealing many claims that have been robbed of reimbursement due to Aetna’s recoupment tactics of claims over 365 days old. Are there any new articles or findings you have relative to this article that may aid me in appealing this issue appropriately?

Lori Ray

Do you know if this refund Law 10133.66 applies to all California Health Plan including the Self Funding Plan administered by an insurance company (Aetna).

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