Understanding Coverage: Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Support Weight Loss Surgery?

When considering weight loss surgery, understanding your insurance coverage is crucial. Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), as one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States, offers various plans that may cover weight loss surgery. This article explores the extent of coverage for weight loss surgery under BCBS, including eligibility requirements, types of surgeries covered, and how to ensure your procedure is covered.

Eligibility Requirements for Coverage

BCBS outlines specific eligibility requirements that patients must meet to qualify for weight loss surgery coverage. These criteria are designed to ensure that surgery is medically necessary and that the patient is a suitable candidate.

Common Eligibility Criteria

  • Body Mass Index (BMI): Typically, a BMI of 40 or higher, or a BMI of 35 or higher with obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension.
  • Previous Weight Loss Efforts: Documented evidence of medically supervised weight loss attempts that have been unsuccessful.
  • Medical Evaluation: A thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider to assess the patient’s health and readiness for surgery.
  • Psychological Evaluation: An assessment to ensure the patient is mentally prepared for the lifestyle changes required post-surgery.

Types of Weight Loss Surgeries Covered

BCBS may cover various types of weight loss surgeries, depending on the patient’s medical needs and the specifics of their insurance plan. Below are some commonly covered procedures:

Surgery Type Description
Gastric Bypass A procedure that alters the stomach and small intestine to limit food intake and absorption.
Sleeve Gastrectomy Removal of a portion of the stomach to reduce its size and limit food intake.
Adjustable Gastric Banding Placement of a band around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch and restrict food intake.
Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch A complex procedure that removes a large part of the stomach and reroutes the intestines to limit food intake and absorption.

Ensuring Your Procedure is Covered

To maximize the likelihood of your weight loss surgery being covered by BCBS, follow these steps:

Verify Your Plan’s Coverage

Insurance plans can vary widely, even within BCBS. Contact your insurance provider directly to confirm that weight loss surgery is covered under your specific plan.

Meet All Eligibility Requirements

Ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria outlined by BCBS. This may involve undergoing various medical and psychological evaluations and attempting medically supervised weight loss programs.

Obtain Preauthorization

Most insurance plans, including BCBS, require preauthorization for weight loss surgery. This means your healthcare provider must submit documentation to BCBS proving that the surgery is medically necessary.

Choose an In-Network Provider

Using an in-network provider can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket costs. BCBS has a network of approved healthcare providers and facilities. Ensure your surgeon and hospital are within this network.

Appealing a Denial

If your request for coverage is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. The appeal process typically involves submitting additional documentation or information to support the necessity of the surgery. Consult with your healthcare provider and insurance company to understand the specific steps required for an appeal.


Blue Cross Blue Shield may cover weight loss surgery if it is deemed medically necessary and all eligibility requirements are met. It’s important to thoroughly understand your specific BCBS plan, including coverage limits and any prerequisites for surgery. By following the necessary steps and working closely with your healthcare provider, you can navigate the process of obtaining coverage for weight loss surgery under BCBS.