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Health Insurance: Claims: Appeals: Sample Letter: Second Opinion



The following sample letter is meant to be be used as a starting point if you are denied a service, procedure or treatment because the insurer says it does not cover second opinions. Feel free to modify the sample for your particular situation.

You will notice there is reference in the letter to both state mandated coverage and to a regulatory agency. If you do not know the law of your state or the regulatory agency, go to The Actors' Fund Of America's Health Insurance Resource Center ( offsite link), click on your state, then click on "Insurance Guides" and/or Complaints/Appeals.

If you have difficulty, contact your State's Department of Insurance for guidance. For contact information for your state insurance department, see: offsite link. Click on "NAIC States and Jurisdictions."

There is reference in the sample to two situations: an appeal with urgency due to the need for speed or a regular appeal. If there is any question whether the need is urgent, err on the side of requesting an urgent response.

The sample letter

[Person's name and title if you have it OR Customer Service Department] 
[Name of Your Medical Group OR Health Plan]

RE: Appeal for [your name] OR 
URGENT APPEAL for [your name] 
Subscriber No. [your number]

Dear (person's name if you have it OR Sir/Madam]:

I am writing to appeal [name of medical group OR health plan]'s decision to deny authorizing me to obtain a Second Opinion referral for my medical care.

My doctor, [insert name of doctor], has diagnosed me with ______________ and suggests that I (describe procedure, treatment or use of drugs]. It is medicaly necessary that I obtain a Second Opinion from another specialist as soon as possible. My preference is to see (include the name of the doctor and explain his or her qualifications).

(If your coverage provides for a second opinion, quote the appropriate provisions from the summary or policy).

 [If you are in a state that has "mandated benefits laws," or laws that require plans to provide certain coverage, it can be helpful to refer to provisions that require coverage for the treatment or service you are seeking. The section above tells how to find out if your state has such a provision. If there is such a law in your state, the following language may be appropriate: The [medical group OR health plan]'s failure to provide [name of service, procedure OR treatment sought] also violates [name of state in which you reside] law which requires [describe the state's legal requirement]. See [insert the name of your state state, name of law, and section number].

Please reconsider your position and allow me to obtain a second opinion in accordance with my medical needs and not based on economics. 

(Name of medical group or insurer) should authorize me to seek this second opinion immediately. FAILURE TO PROVIDE ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEEK AN OBJECTIVE SECOND OPINION FROM AN INDEPENDENT SPECIALIST WILL ENTAIL AN IMMINENT AND SERIOUS THREAT TO MY HEALTH.  I am therefore requesting an expedited medical review of my appeal for approval of my request for a second opinion.

Attached is documentation of my medical condition and information supporting the medical necessity of my obtaining a second opinion. Please let me know if you need adidtional information.

Please provide me with a decision as soon as possible and no later than five days from the date of your receipt of this letter.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.


[Your name]

cc: [Possible individuals and/or groups to whom you can consider sending a copy of your letter:]

    [Health Plan Medical Director] 
    [Medical Group Medical Director] 
    [Your primary care physician] 
    [Your specialist] 
    [Your employer or insurance broker] 
    [Your state regulatory agency]
    [State legislator who oversees insurance]

Attachments: [Material and documentation you can consider attaching:]

    Copy of referral 
    Copy of letter from doctor (supporting the need for a second opinion and supporting need for expedited review, if applicable) 
    Medical records 


  • If the appeal is about "medical necessity", click here
  • If the appeal is because of denial because the recommended treatment is "experimental", click here.

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