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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

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"Not accepted" vs. "declined"

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If you notice an error or are in doubt, please send a new question by email or ask for an update. Email

Q: I was not accepted at Aetna and now have trouble finding health insurance.

A: There is an important legal distinction between "not accepted" vs. "declined" for health insurance. It may seem like a trivial issue at first but there is a big difference that health insurance buyers must understand. "Not accepted" means that you are free to apply for any of the other more affordable and higher quality health plans available at and elsewhere. You will probably wind up pleased that you were not accepted by Aetna because of the more attractive coverage that is available elsewhere. "Declined", on the other hand, means that you are not eligible for any of these more attractive health plans for the next 12 months and may need to apply to an assigned risk pool to obtain coverage. In addition, an insurance company may send an entry the the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) about the applicant's decline which is used similarly to a consumer credit report by other insurance companies. For this reason, the health insurance companies listed at do not decline any applications, but rather simply state that an applicant not eligible for coverage. Technically, applicants withdraw their online application even before it reaches the insurance underwriter. Other insurance companies like Aetna might decline an application and place a notation on the individual's Medical Information Bureau (MIB) report about the decline. You should first determine whether you were declined for insurance or simply not accepted by Aetna, and then go from there.


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