Balance by CCHP wants you to be satisfied with the services you receive as a member. Balance wants to hear from you when you have any problems or issues with the health plan. When you have a problem or a complaint, call Member Services at 1-888-775-7888 (TTY 1-877-681-8898) seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Member Services can explain your health plan benefits, or, if your problem is about another matter, they will try to solve it right away. If Member Services cannot solve your problem, they will help you file an appeal or grievance. Balance will not discriminate against you because you file an appeal or grievance.
We are committed to providing you with quality care and with a timely response to your concerns. You can discuss your concerns with our Member Services.
What is a Grievance or an Appeal
A grievance is a complaint about a problem you observe or experience, including complaints about the quality of services that you receive, complaints regarding such issues as office waiting times, physician behavior, adequacy of facilities, or other similar concerns.
An appeal is a complaint about a coverage decision, including a denial of payment for a service you received, or a denial in providing a service you feel you are entitled to as a Balance Member. Coverage decisions that may be appealed include a denial of payment for any health care services you received, or a denial of a service you believe should have been arranged for, furnished, or paid for by Balance.
You can file a grievance for any issue. Grievance means a written or oral expression of dissatisfaction regarding the plan and or provider, including quality of care concerns, and shall include a complaint, dispute, request for reconsideration, or appeal made by a Member or the Member’s representative.
The following persons may file a grievance:
- You may file for yourself
- You may appoint someone as your authorized representative by completing our authorization form. Authorization forms are available from your local Member Services Center at a Plan Facility or by calling our Member Service Call Center. Your completed authorization form must accompany the grievance
- You may file for your Dependent children, except that they must appoint you as their authorized representative if they have the legal right to control release of information that is relevant to the grievance
- You may file for your ward if you are a court appointed guardian
- You may file for your conservatee if you are a court appointed conservator
- You may file for your principal if you are an agent under a health care proxy, to the extent provided under state law
- Your physician may request an expedited grievance as described under “Expedited grievance” in this “Dispute Resolution” section
How to File
Your grievance must explain your issue, such as the reasons why you believe a decision was in error or why you are dissatisfied about services you received. You must submit your grievance orally or in writing within 180 days of the date of the incident that caused your dissatisfaction as follows:
- By Telephone: 1-888-775-7888 | 1-877-681-8898 (TTY)
- By Fax: 1-415-397-2129
- By Mail: Member Services, 445 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108
- Online: You may file directly using a secure online form by logging onto your Member Portal.
- You may also download a PDF of our Complaint/Grievance Form
What Happens After You File
We will send you a confirmation letter within five days after we receive your grievance. We will send you our written decision within 30 days after we receive your grievance. If we do not approve your request, we will tell you the reasons and about additional dispute resolution options.
You or your physician may make an oral or written request that we expedite our decision about your grievance if it involves an imminent and serious threat to your health, such as severe pain or potential loss of life, limb, or major bodily function. We will inform you of our decision within 72 hours (orally or in writing). We will also expedite our decision if the request is for a continuation of an expiring course of treatment.
You or your physician must request an expedited decision in one of the following ways and you must specifically state that you want an expedited decision:
- Call our Member Services at 1-888-775-7888 (TTY 1-877-681-8898), which is available seven days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. After hours, you may leave a message and a representative will return your call the next business day
- Send your written request to: Member Services 445 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108
- Fax your written request to our Member Services Center at 415-397-2129
If we do not approve your request for an expedited decision, we will notify you and we will respond to your grievance within 30 days. If we do not approve your grievance, we will send you a written decision that tells you the reasons and about additional dispute resolution options.
Note: If you have an issue that involves an imminent and serious threat to your health (such as severe pain or potential loss of life, limb, or major bodily function), you can contact the DMHC directly at any time without first filing a grievance with us.
In some cases, you have the right to an expedited appeal when a delay in decision-making might pose an imminent and serious threat to your health, including but not limited to severe pain, potential loss of life, limb, or major bodily function. If you request an expedited appeal, the health plan will evaluate your request and medical condition to determine if your appeal qualifies as expedited; expedited appeals are processed within 72 hours. While you are encouraged to contact Balance with your request for an expedited appeal, please note that you may contact the Department of Managed Health Care directly without first being required to use the Balance grievance and appeal process; please see the section below entitled “State of California Complaint Process” for information on how to make such a request.
Arbitration is the final process for resolution of any disputes which may arise between a Member and the Plan. When you enroll in this Plan, you agree that such disputes will be decided by neutral arbitration and you also agree to give up your right to a jury or court trial for the settlement of such disputes. The Member Services Center can send you a copy of the arbitration provisions. In the arbitration provision, there is a fee required to file an arbitration claim. However, if paying your portion of the required fees and expenses would cause you extreme hardship you may petition for release from paying those fees and expenses by requesting an application to proceed In Forma Pauperis from the Plan.
All disputes, including without limitation disputes relating to the delivery of services under the Plan or issues related to the Plan, disputes arising from or relating to an alleged violation of any duty incident to, arising out of or relating to this Combined Evidence of Coverage and Disclosure Form or a Member’s relationship to Balance, and claims of medical or hospital malpractice, must be resolved by binding arbitration if the amount in dispute exceeds the jurisdictional limit of small claims court.
California Health & Safety Code section 1363.1 requires specific disclosures including the following notice: “It is understood that any dispute as to medical malpractice, that is, whether any medical services rendered under this contract were unnecessary or unauthorized or were improperly, negligently or incompetently rendered, will be determined by submission to arbitration as provided by California law, and not by a lawsuit or resort to court process except as California law provides for judicial review of arbitration proceedings. Both parties to this contract, by entering into it, acknowledge that they are giving up their constitutional right to have any and all disputes, including medical malpractice claims, decided in a court of law before a jury, and instead are accepting the use of arbitration.”
Member and Balance agree to be bound by this binding arbitration provision and acknowledge that the right to a jury trial is waived for disputes relating to the delivery of services under the Plan or any other issue related to the Plan and medical malpractice claims.
Arbitration shall be administered by Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (“JAMS”) in accordance with the JAMS Comprehensive Arbitration Rules and Procedures. The Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. Sections 1-16, shall also apply. To the extent that the Federal Arbitration Act is inapplicable, or is held not to require arbitration of a particular claim, California state law governing agreements to arbitrate shall apply. The arbitrator’s findings shall be final and binding except to the extent that State or Federal law provides for the judicial review of arbitration proceedings. The arbitrator shall prepare in writing and provide to the parties an award including factual findings and the legal reasons on which the award is based.
Claimant shall initiate arbitration by serving a written demand for arbitration to the respondent in accordance with JAMS procedures for submittal of arbitration. The demand for arbitration shall include: the basis of the claim against the respondent; the amount of damages the claimant seek in the arbitration; the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the claimant and their attorney, if any; and the names of all respondents. Claimant shall include all claims against respondent that are based on the same incident, transaction, or related circumstances in the demand for arbitration.
Please send all demands for arbitrations to:
Balance by CCHP
445 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108
All other respondents, including individuals, must be served as required by California Code of Civil Procedure.
If the total amount of damages claimed is two hundred thousand ($200,000) dollars or less, a single neutral arbitrator shall be selected, unless the parties agree in writing, after a case or dispute has arisen and the request for arbitration has been submitted, to use a tripartite arbitration panel. The arbitrator shall not have authority to award monetary damages that are greater than $200,000. If the total amount of damages claimed is more than two hundred thousand ($200,000) dollars, the dispute shall be heard and determined by one neutral arbitrator and two party arbitrators, one appointed by claimant(s) and one appointed by respondent(s). If all parties agree, arbitration may be heard by a single neutral arbitrator.
The costs of the arbitration will be allocated per JAMS Policy on Consumer Arbitrations, except in cases of extreme financial hardship, upon application and approval by JAMS, CCHP will assume all or a portion of the costs of the arbitration. The costs associated with arbitration, including without limitation attorneys’ fees, witness fees and other expenses incurred in prosecuting or defending against a claim shall be borne by the losing party or in such proportions as the arbitrator shall decide.
A claim shall be waived and forever barred if:
(1) on the date the demand for arbitration is served, the claim, if asserted in a civil action, would be barred as to the respondent served by the applicable statute of limitations; (2) claimant fails to pursue with reasonable diligence, the arbitration claim in accord with JAMS rules and procedures; or (3) the arbitration hearing is not commenced within five (5) years after the earlier of (a) the date the demand for arbitration was served, or (b) the date of filing of a civil action based upon the same incident, transaction, or related circumstances involved in the claim. A claim may be dismissed on other grounds by the arbitrator based on a showing of a good cause. If a party fails to attend the arbitration hearing after being given due notice thereof, the arbitrator may proceed to determine the controversy in the party’s absence.
The California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975, including sections establishing the right to introduce evidence of any insurance or disability benefit payment to the patient, the limitation on recovery for noneconomic losses, and the right to have an award for future damages conformed to periodic payments, shall apply to any claims for professional negligence or any other claims as permitted or required by law.
State of California Complaint Process
Health plans in California are regulated by a department of the state government. The paragraph below is information from this department about assistance you may be able to receive from that department.
The California Department of Managed Health Care is responsible for regulating health care service plans. If you have a grievance against your health plan, you should first telephone your health plan at 1-888-775-7888 and use your health plan’s grievance process before contacting the department. Utilizing this grievance procedure does not prohibit any potential legal rights or remedies that may be available to you. If you need help with a grievance involving an emergency, a grievance that has not been satisfactorily resolved by your health plan, or a grievance that has remained unresolved for more than 30 days, you may call the department for assistance. You may also be eligible for an Independent Medical Review (IMR). If you are eligible for IMR, the IMR process will provide an impartial review of medical decisions made by a health plan related to the medical necessity of a proposed service or treatment, coverage decisions for treatments that are experimental or investigational in nature and payment disputes for emergency or urgent medical services. The department also has a toll-free telephone number (1-888-466-2219) and a TDD line (1-877-688-9891) for the hearing and speech impaired. The department’s Internet Website dmhc.ca.gov has complaint forms, IMR application forms and instructions online.
Independent Medical Review
If you qualify, you or your authorized representative may have your issue reviewed through the Independent Medical Review (IMR) process managed by the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC). The DMHC determines which cases qualify for IMR. This review is at no cost to you. If you decide not to request an IMR, you may give up the right to pursue some legal actions against us.
You may qualify for IMR if all of the following are true:
- You have a recommendation from a provider requesting Medically Necessary Services
- You have received Emergency Care or Urgent Care from a provider who determined the Services to be Medically Necessary
- You have been seen by a Plan Provider for the diagnosis or treatment of your medical condition
- Your request for payment or Services has been denied, modified, or delayed based in whole or in part on a decision that the Services are not Medically Necessary
- You have filed a grievance and we have denied it or we haven’t made a decision about your grievance within 30 days (or three days for expedited grievances). The DMHC may waive the requirement that you first file a grievance with us in extraordinary and compelling cases, such as severe pain or potential loss of life, limb, or major bodily function
You may also qualify for IMR if the Service you requested has been denied on the basis that it is experimental or investigational as described under “Experimental or investigational denials.” If the DMHC determines that your case is eligible for IMR, it will ask us to send your case to the DMHC’s Independent Medical Review organization. The DMHC will promptly notify you of its decision after it receives the Independent Medical Review organization’s determination. If the decision is in your favor, we will contact you to arrange for the Service or payment.
Experimental or Investigational Denials
If we deny a Service because it is experimental or investigational, we will send you our written explanation within five days of making our decision. We will explain why we denied the Service and provide additional dispute resolution options. Also, we will provide information about your right to request Independent Medical Review if we had the following information when we made our decision:
- Your treating physician provided us a written statement that you have a life-threatening or seriously debilitating condition and that standard therapies have not been effective in improving your condition, or that standard therapies would not be appropriate, or that there is no more beneficial standard therapy we cover than the therapy being requested. “Life threatening” means diseases or conditions where the likelihood of death is high unless the course of the disease is interrupted or diseases or conditions with potentially fatal outcomes where the end point of clinical intervention is survival. “Seriously debilitating” means diseases or conditions that cause major irreversible morbidity
- If your treating physician is a Plan Physician, he or she recommended a treatment, drug, device, procedure, or other therapy and certified that the requested therapy is likely to be more beneficial to you than any available standard therapies and included a statement of the evidence relied upon by the Plan Physician in certifying his or her recommendation
- You (or your Non-Plan Physician who is a licensed, and either a board-certified or board-eligible, physician qualified in the area of practice appropriate to treat your condition) requested a therapy that, based on two documents from the medical and scientific evidence, as defined in California Health and Safety Code Section 1370.4(d), is likely to be more beneficial for you than any available standard therapy. The physician’s certification included a statement of the evidence relied upon by the physician in certifying his or her recommendation. We do not cover the Services of the Non-Plan Provider
Note: You can request IMR for experimental or investigational denials at any time without first filing a grievance with us.