UniCare Weight Loss Surgery – How to Avoid a Denial

Your UniCare weight loss surgery insurance coverage depends on several factors, all of which are reviewed below.

First, try our insurance tool to quickly check your insurance coverage:

Read and click below for additional weight loss surgery insurance details.


Click on any of the topics below to jump directly to that section

  1. Coverage Requirements
  2. Coverage Plans
  3. Covered Procedures
  4. Appealing a Denial
  5. Find a Weight Loss Surgeon

Coverage Requirements


  • 35+ Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Documentation of failed diet attempts
  • Psychological evaluation


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 UniCare for bariatric surgery in the United States, you must meet the following criteria:

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

    • BMI 35 – 39.9 AND one of the following
      • Diabetes mellitus
      • Cardiovascular disease
      • Hypertension
      • Severe obstructive sleep apnea
      • Pickwickian syndrome
      • Obesity related cardiomyopathy

    Use this BMI Calculator to check your body mass index…

  4. The individual must have serially documented active participation in a non-surgical weight reduction regimen for at least 6 continuous months, in the 2 years prior to surgery, to enable both behavioral changes and adequate assessment of anticipated postoperative dietary maintenance. These efforts must be fully appraised and documented by the physician requesting authorization for surgery.
  5. The physician requesting authorization for the surgery must provide documentation of ALL of the following:
    • The individual’s psychiatric profile is such that the candidate is able to understand, tolerate and comply with all phases of care and is committed to long-term follow-up requirements
    • The candidate’s post-operative expectations have been addressed
    • The individual has undergone a preoperative medical consultation and is felt to be an acceptable surgical candidate
    • The individual has undergone a preoperative mental health assessment and is felt to be an acceptable candidate
    • The individual has received a thorough explanation of the risks, benefits, and uncertainties of the procedure
    • The candidate’s treatment plan includes pre- and post-operative dietary evaluations and nutritional counseling
    • The candidate’s treatment plan includes counseling regarding exercise, psychological issues and the availability of supportive resources when needed

Adolecents Requirements

A bariatric surgeon with experience in the pediatric population may request further consideration of a case of an individual under 18 years old with severe morbid obesity and unique circumstances by contacting a Medical Director.

Revision Requirements

Repeat surgical procedures for revision or conversion to another surgical procedure for inadequate weight loss, are considered medically necessary when ALL the following criteria are met:

  • The individual meets ALL the medical necessity criteria for bariatric surgery listed above
  • 2 years following the original surgery, weight loss is less than 50% of pre-operative excess body weight and weight remains at least 30% over ideal body weight
  • If inadequate weight loss or regain of initial weight loss following the initial surgery is determined to be due to noncompliance with the previously prescribed postoperative dietary and exercise programs, documentation is required to confirm that a mental health assessment has determined that behavioral issues that resulted in inadequate weight loss or regain, related to noncompliance with postoperative dietary and lifestyle modifications following the initial surgery, have been adequately addressed to significantly mitigate the risk of an inadequate weight loss outcome from the additional surgery
  • NOTE: Stretching of a stomach pouch formed by a previous gastric bypass/restrictive surgery, due to overeating, does not constitute a surgical complication and the revision of this condition is considered not medically necessary

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.

UniCare Contact Information and Full Medical Policy on Bariatric Surgery


Coverage by Plan Type


  • Coverage Through Your Employer
  • Individual & Family Plans
  • Medicare

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.

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

Following are a list of UniCare 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.


Covered Weight Loss Procedures


  • Gastric Sleeve
  • Gastric Bypass
  • Lap-Band
  • Duodenal Switch
  • Vertical Banded Gastroplasty

Please see below for the procedures UniCare 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 UniCare:

Procedures That Are NOT Covered

The following procedures are NOT covered by UniCare:


Appealing a Denial


  • General Appeal Instructions
  • Appeal Details Specific to UniCare

If UniCare 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 UniCare to learn how to proceed.


Find A Top Weight Loss Surgeon


  • Ask for a free insurance check or cost quote
  • Attend a free seminar or webinar
  • Schedule a phone or in-person consultation (both often free)

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


* Disclaimers: Content: The information contained in this website is provided for general information purposes and your specific results may vary depending on a variety of circumstances. It is not intended as nor should be relied upon as medical advice. Rather, it is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing physician(s). Before you use any of the information provided in the site, you should seek the advice of a qualified medical, dietary, fitness or other appropriate professional. Advertising: Bariatric Surgery Source, LLC has entered into referral and advertising arrangements with certain medical practices, original equipment manufacturers, and financial companies under which we receive compensation (in the form of flat fees per qualifying action) when you click on links to our partners and/or submit information. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Read More

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