BCBS of Massachusetts Weight Loss Surgery - How to Avoid a Denial

Your Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts weight loss surgery insurance coverage depends on several factors, all of which are reviewed below.

To request a free insurance check, click here to contact a top local surgeon. Alternatively, use the tool below to find out if you have coverage.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts Weight Loss Surgery

READ THIS FIRST

Even if your insurance company covers bariatric surgery in some plans, that does not mean that your specific plan covers it. The obesity surgery approval requirements in this section assume that weight loss surgery is covered by your specific policy.

To confirm whether your specific policiy covers bariatric surgery, click here to contact a surgeon and ask for a free insurance check.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this page may not include all components of your insurance company’s medical policy and/or may not be up to date. Contact your insurance company to confirm all benefits.

In order to be approved by Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts for bariatric surgery in the United States, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Patient is 18 years of age or older
  2. Diagnosis of Morbid obesity, defined as
  3. Or

    • BMI 35 – 39.9 AND one of the following
      • Sleep apnea
      • Pickwickian syndrome
      • Pseudotumor cerebri
      • Obesity related cardiomyopathy
      • Type II Diabetes
      • At least Stage 1 Hypertension based on JNC-VII (SBP >140 and/or DBP >90) after combination pharmacotherapy
      • Coronary artery disease
      • Obesity related pulmonary hypertension

    Use this BMI Calculator to check your body mass index…

  4. A qualified physician has indicated that the patient:
    • Is a well informed and motivated patient with acceptable operative risks
    • Has a strong desire for substantial weight loss
    • Has failed other non-surgical approaches to long-term weight loss
    • Is enrolled in a program which provides pre-op and post-op multidisciplinary evaluation and care including: behavioral health, nutrition, and medical management

Adolecents Requirements

Bariatric surgery in adolescents may be MEDICALLY NECESSARY according to the same weight-based criteria used for adults, but greater consideration should be given to psychosocial and informed consent issues.

Patients must meet the “Patient Selection Criteria” described above for Adults. In addition, any devices used for bariatric surgery must be in accordance with the FDA-approved indications for use.

Revision Requirements

Revision surgery to address perioperative or late complications of a bariatric procedure including but not limited to the following:

    • Staple-line failure
    • Obstruction
    • Stricture
    • Non-absorption resulting in hypoglycemia or malnutrition
    • Weight loss of 20% or more below ideal body weight

Revision of a primary bariatric procedure that has failed due to dilatation of the gastric pouch or dilation proximal to an adjustable gastric band (documented by upper gastrointestinal examination or endoscopy) if:

    • The initial procedure was successful in inducing weight loss prior to pouch dilation
    • The patient has been compliant with a prescribed nutrition and exercise program
    • The patient still meets criteria (BMI) for bariatric surgery

If Your Policy Does NOT Cover It: Seek Partial Coverage

You may be able to get part of the costs paid for by insurance even if weight loss surgery isn’t covered. It’s all about how your doctor and hospital submit your claims to your insurance company.

For example, there are many non-bariatric surgery reasons for your doctor to recommend:

  • Cardiology exam
  • Lab work
  • Medically supervised diet program
  • Psychological exam
  • Sleep study

These are ordered for many reasons other than bariatric surgery and may be covered as a result. If your doctor submits one of these claims using a weight loss surgery CPT code (Current Procedural Terminology Code), your insurance is unlikely to cover it. But if your doctor uses a general CPT code, it probably will be covered.

While this may sound “sneaky”, it is an ethical practice. After all, these tests will be beneficial regardless of whether you move forward with surgery.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts Weight Loss Surgery

Before getting into the types of insurance plans, you can cut to the chase by contacting a local bariatric surgeon’s office. Most surgeons will contact your insurance company for free to confirm whether or not you’re covered.

Click here to find a local surgeon and ask them to check your insurance for you for free.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts does cover weight loss surgery, but your specific policy must include it in order for you get it covered.

Following are a list of Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts plan types and whether they cover bariatric surgery:

Weight Loss Surgery for Health Plans Through Your Work

If you work for a company that has 50 or more full time employees, it is completely up to your employer to decide whether or not to cover bariatric surgery under your health plan.

To find out whether weight loss surgery is covered by your employer’s plan, you have a few options:

Weight Loss Surgery for Individual/Family Plans

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires all individual and small group plans (less than 50 full time employees) to include weight loss surgery coverage as long as it is considered an “Essential Health Benefit” in your state.

The following states DO currently consider bariatric surgery an Essential Health Benefit (bariatric surgery is covered by all individual, family and small group plans in these states):

Your State Not on the List?

If your state is NOT on the list, then weight loss surgery is probably NOT covered under your plan.

First, contact your local surgeon to be sure. For no charge, their office will contact your insurance company on your behalf to work through the details.

If your surgeon confirms that your policy does not include obesity surgery, you still have several options for making surgery more affordable. See these pages for more information:

    • Arizona
    • California
    • Delaware
    • Hawaii
    • Illinois
    • Iowa
    • Maine
    • Maryland
    • Massachusetts
    • Michigan
    • Nevada
    • New Hampshire
    • New Jersey
    • New Mexico
    • New York
    • North Carolina
    • North Dakota
    • Oklahoma
    • Rhode Island
    • South Dakota
    • Vermont
    • West Virginia
    • Wyoming

Regardless of whether your state is on the list, contact a qualified surgeon to request a free insurance check to verify your coverage.

To review your insurance company’s obesity surgery coverage requirements, click here to jump back up the page.

Weight Loss Surgery for Medicare Plans

All Medicare plans are required to cover the following weight loss surgery procedures:

However, special Medicare-specific criteria apply. Click here to learn more about Medicare bariatric surgery coverage.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts Weight Loss Surgery

Please see below for the procedures Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts covers, might cover under certain circumstances, and those that are not covered under any circumstances:

Procedures That ARE Covered

Procedures That MIGHT BE Covered

The following procedures MIGHT BE covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts:

Procedures That Are NOT Covered

The following procedures are NOT covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts:

  • Gastric Balloon
  • vBloc Therapy
  • AspireAssist
  • Vertical Banded Gastroplasty
  • Mini Gastric Bypass Surgery
  • Biliopancreatic bypass without duodenal switch
  • Long limb gastric bypass (i.e., >150 cm)
  • Two-stage bariatric surgery procedures (e.g., sleeve gastrectomy as initial procedure followed by biliopancreatic diversion at a later time)
  • Endoscopic procedures (e.g., insertion of the StomaphyX ™ device, EndoCinch suturing system) as a primary bariatric procedure or as a revision procedure, (i.e., to treat weight gain after bariatric surgery to remedy large gastric stoma or large gastric pouches)
  • Jejunoileal bypass
  • Horizontal gastric partitioning/ gastroplasty
  • Gastric wrapping
  • Garren-Edwards gastric bubble
  • Gastric Electric Stimulation for the treatment of obesity (Gastric pacemaker), and Any bariatric surgery performed as a cure for type 2 diabetes mellitus
Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts Weight Loss Surgery

If Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts denies your weight loss surgery claim and you think it should be covered, consider filing an appeal.

Our Health Insurance Appeals page will get you started, then head over to the Disputes & Appeals page for Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts to learn how to proceed.

Search the weight loss surgeon directory below to ask a top surgeon about a free insurance check by country and region: