UPJ INSIGHT: Leaving No Stone Unturned: Factors Associated With Overturning Insurance Claim Denials for Urological Conditions in New York State

By: Lulu Wei, BS; Ping Ping Zeng, BS; Isabelle Kaplan, MS; Ryan Kong, BS; Aaron Huang, MD; Andrew Winer, MD, FACS | Posted on: 01 Dec 2022

Wei L, Zeng PP, Kaplan I, Kong R, Huang A, Winer A. Leaving no stone unturned: factors associated with overturning insurance claim denials for urological conditions in New York state. Urol Pract. 2022;9(6):568-573.

Study Need and Importance

Members and providers in managed care plans have the right to file for external review, in which a third-party evaluates the merit of an appeal for a denied insurance claim. Despite the policy attention on and importance of external review for preserving patient rights, there is a scarcity of research on external review as it pertains to the field of urology. Denials cause frustration and burnout, and require additional administrative time from urologists, practice managers, allied providers, and urological patients alike. Thus, research into the landscape of external appeals for urological services is warranted.

What We Found

We found that appeal volumes have nearly doubled since 2019 for urological care and rates of successful appeal increased 244% between 2019 to 2021. There was a 39.5% rate of successful appeal within urology, which is lower than the overall 43.4% in New York State. Only 15.2% of reviewers cited AUA guidelines to justify medical management decisions and referencing the AUA guidelines was associated with a 70% reduced odds of overturning denials (OR: 0.30; 95%CI: 0.11-0.79; P = .016; see Table).

Table. Multivariate Logistic Regression of Overturned Urological Service Denials

Parameters OR (95%CI) OR P value
Gender, No. (%) .131
 Male Reference Reference
 Female 1.48 (0.89–2.44) .131
Age group (years), No. (%) .043
 0–19 Reference Reference
 20–39 0.23 (0.09–0.60) .003
 40–59 0.34 (0.14–0.79) .012
 60–79 0.42 (0.17–1.05) .064
 80+ 0.41 (0.11–1.50) .178
Appeal reason .659
 Medical necessity Reference Reference
 Formulary exception 1.36 (0.22–8.47) .744
 Experimental/investigational 0.44 (0.07–2.92) .395
Treatment, No. (%) < .001
 Inpatient hospitalization Reference Reference
 Home health care 11.29 (4.09–31.19) < .001
 Medications 11.90 (2.39–59.31) .003
 Surgical services 28.26 (5.69–140.33) < .001
 Other 1.99 (0.70–5.65) .195
Comorbidities .255
 No Reference Reference
 Yes 1.38 (0.79–2.40) .255
Referenced AUA .016
 No Reference Reference
 Yes 0.30 (0.11–0.79) .016


This study only captures the cases that were successfully filed according to New York State external review regulations. We could not draw statistically meaningful conclusions about the characteristics of appeals related to different urological cancers or elevated PSA because of low case counts and insufficient power.

Interpretation for Patient Care

These findings will help serve as a reference point for future external appeals research and for urology advocacy groups engaging with insurance company decisions. External reviews should be utilized more often to minimize out-of-pocket costs because nearly 40% of appeals were successful. Utilizing AUA guidelines may prevent overtreatment or mistreatment, but they are potentially overly constricting if used as benchmark for some cases of experimental services and other claim types.