Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance Cover Weight Loss Surgery?

Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover Bariatric Surgery

The journey towards a healthier lifestyle often involves exploring various options, and for some individuals, weight loss surgery becomes a consideration. 

If you’re covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, you might be curious about the extent of their coverage for such transformative procedures. 

In this article, we’ll unravel the intricacies of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s stance on weight loss surgery, shed light on the specific surgeries they cover, and guide you through securing approval. 

Let’s navigate the weight loss surgery coverage landscape with Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Bariatric Surgery

Which Surgeries Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover?

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Insurance understands the importance of weight loss surgeries in some instances, and they do offer coverage for specific procedures. 

Typically, they cover surgeries deemed medically necessary and recognized by medical professionals as effective for significant weight loss. Usual weight loss surgeries that may be covered include:

  • Gastric Bypass Surgery: This procedure involves creating a smaller stomach pouch and rerouting the small intestine to limit food intake and nutrient absorption.
  • Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Also known as sleeve gastrectomy, this surgery involves removing a portion of the stomach to create a smaller, banana-shaped stomach.
  • Lap-Band Surgery: The Lap-Band procedure involves placing an adjustable band around the top of the stomach to restrict food intake.

It’s important to note that coverage may vary based on individual circumstances and your specific Blue Cross Blue Shield plan. Always check your policy details or contact the insurance provider for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

How to Get Approved for Weight Loss Surgery:

Getting approval for weight loss surgery with Blue Cross Blue Shield involves a systematic process. Here’s a general guide to help you navigate through the approval steps:

  • Consultation with a Healthcare Professional: Discuss your weight loss goals and health condition with your primary care physician. They can help determine if weight loss surgery is a suitable option for you.
  • Documentation of Medical Necessity: In your case, your healthcare provider will need to document the medical necessity of the surgery. This may include evidence of failed attempts at other weight loss methods and the presence of obesity-related health issues.
  • Referral to a Specialist: In some cases, your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist, such as a bariatric surgeon, for a more in-depth evaluation.
  • Insurance Authorization: Once the medical necessity is established, obtaining authorization from Blue Cross Blue Shield is the next step. Your healthcare provider will submit the necessary documentation and work with the insurance company to secure approval.
  • Pre-Operative Requirements: Blue Cross Blue Shield may have specific pre-operative requirements, such as nutritional counseling, psychological evaluations, and supervised weight loss programs. Ensure you fulfill these requirements to maintain eligibility for coverage.

Alternatives to Blue Cross Blue Shield

If you’re getting denied for bariatric surgery with Blue Cross Blue Shield, there are several options to persue bariatric surgery:

  • Self-Pay Bariatric Surgery: Just because you were denied bariatric surgery with BCBS, you can pursue self-pay bariatric surgery in the US at a bariatric center designed for self pay. Not all bariatric centers will support self-pay patients, it’s important to do your research on finding a qualified bariatric surgeon.
  • Self-Pay Bariatric Surgery in Mexico: The self-pay cost in Mexico can save you roughly 70-80% the cost in the US. The process for getting approved is typically much easier and you can undergo surgery as fast as a few weeks.
  • Appeal Your Surgical Denial: Appeal your insurance denial is always an option, especially if you feel you were wrongly denied for surgery. You can learn more about how to appeal your bariatric surgery denial here.

Frequently Asked Questions on Blue Cross Blue Shield:

What weight loss surgeries does Blue Cross Blue Shield consider medically necessary?

Blue Cross Blue Shield considers surgeries medically necessary if they can significantly impact an individual’s health and well-being. This determination is often based on factors such as body mass index (BMI), obesity-related health issues, and previous unsuccessful attempts at weight loss.

Does Blue Cross Blue Shield cover cosmetic procedures related to weight loss surgery?

Cosmetic procedures, such as excess skin removal, are typically not covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield if considered purely aesthetic. However, coverage may be available for specific reconstructive procedures if deemed medically necessary.

Is there a waiting period for weight loss surgery coverage?

The waiting period for weight loss surgery coverage can vary depending on your Blue Cross Blue Shield plan. Some plans may have a waiting period, while others may provide immediate coverage. Check your policy details or contact Blue Cross Blue Shield for information on waiting periods.

What criteria does Blue Cross Blue Shield use to determine eligibility for weight loss surgery?

Blue Cross Blue Shield evaluates eligibility for weight loss surgery based on a combination of factors, including the severity of obesity, the presence of obesity-related comorbidities, and the failure of traditional weight loss methods. Your healthcare provider plays a crucial role in documenting these factors to demonstrate the procedure’s medical necessity.


Understanding your insurance coverage is crucial in the quest for a healthier life through weight loss surgery. Blue Cross Blue Shield provides coverage for specific weight loss surgeries deemed medically necessary. 

By following the outlined steps, consulting with healthcare professionals, and fulfilling the required criteria, you can obtain approval for weight loss surgery with Blue Cross Blue Shield. 

Always stay informed about your policy details and consult with your healthcare providers to ensure a smooth and successful journey towards a healthier you.

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