Exploring Coverage: Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance Support Weight Loss Surgery?

Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is a significant step for individuals looking to overcome obesity and its related health issues. As the costs associated with these procedures can be substantial, understanding insurance coverage is crucial. This article delves into whether Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States, supports weight loss surgery.

Understanding Weight Loss Surgery Coverage

Insurance coverage for weight loss surgery varies significantly between policies and providers. It’s essential to understand the specific terms and conditions of your BCBS policy to determine if weight loss surgery is covered.

Types of Weight Loss Surgeries

  • Gastric Bypass
  • Sleeve Gastrectomy
  • Adjustable Gastric Banding
  • Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch

Criteria for Coverage

Most insurance providers, including BCBS, have specific criteria that must be met for weight loss surgery coverage. These often include:

  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or a BMI of 35 or higher with obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension.
  • Documented evidence of previous unsuccessful weight loss efforts.
  • A psychological evaluation to ensure readiness for surgery and lifestyle changes post-surgery.
  • Participation in a medically supervised weight loss program.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Coverage for Weight Loss Surgery

BCBS offers a variety of insurance plans, each with its own set of benefits and coverage options. Coverage for weight loss surgery is often included, but it is subject to the specific terms of your policy and your state’s regulations.

How to Verify Your Coverage

  1. Contact BCBS directly: The most reliable way to understand your coverage is by contacting BCBS customer service. They can provide detailed information about your policy’s benefits.
  2. Review your policy documents: Your insurance policy documents should outline what surgeries and treatments are covered, including any prerequisites for coverage.
  3. Consult with a bariatric surgeon: Bariatric surgery centers often have staff who can help you understand your insurance benefits and any potential out-of-pocket costs.

Common Coverage Limitations and Exclusions

While BCBS may cover weight loss surgery, there are common limitations and exclusions to be aware of, such as:

  • Cosmetic surgeries post-weight loss, like skin removal, may not be covered.
  • Specific procedures might be excluded based on your policy or state.
  • Pre-authorization is usually required to ensure coverage.

Maximizing Your BCBS Coverage

To ensure you get the most out of your BCBS coverage for weight loss surgery, consider the following tips:

Understand Your Policy

Thoroughly review your policy documents and speak with a BCBS representative to understand your coverage limits, deductibles, and co-payments.

Follow Pre-authorization Procedures

Ensure all pre-authorization requirements are met to avoid unexpected costs. This often involves submitting medical records and evidence of previous weight loss attempts.

Choose In-network Providers

Using in-network bariatric surgeons and facilities can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket costs. BCBS provides a directory of in-network providers on their website.


Blue Cross Blue Shield does offer coverage for weight loss surgery, but the extent of that coverage varies by policy and state. Understanding your specific policy details, meeting all criteria and pre-authorization requirements, and choosing in-network providers are key steps to accessing your benefits for weight loss surgery. Always consult with BCBS and a qualified bariatric surgeon to get the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding your coverage.

Additional Resources

Resource Description
BCBS Official Website Provides information on various BCBS insurance plans, coverage options, and provider networks.
American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Offers resources and information for individuals considering bariatric surgery.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Provides comprehensive information on obesity, weight loss surgery options, and recovery.