These services may or may not be covered by your HealthPartners plan. Please see your plan documents for your specific coverage information. If there is a difference between this general information and your plan documents, your plan documents will be used to determine your coverage.
Prior Notification is required for weight loss (bariatric) surgery performed by a designated physician in one of the Preferred Choice Weight Loss Surgery Programs. The Preferred Choice Weight Loss Surgery Program network will be applied to members who reside in regions where they have access to a Preferred Choice weight loss surgeon. Members residing outside of these regions will be exempt from this requirement. See related content section at the right for a list of preferred weight loss surgery programs as well as applicable geographic regions
Prior Authorization is required for weight loss (bariatric) surgery performed by any physician other than a designated physician in one of the Preferred Choice Weight Loss Surgery Programs. See related content section at the right for a list of preferred weight loss surgery programs.
Prior authorization is required for weight loss (bariatric) surgery in members less than 18 years of age. All requests for coverage in members less than 18 years of age will be reviewed by a medical director to determine medical necessity.
This policy applies only to initial weight loss (bariatric) surgery procedures. Refer to the Weight Loss Surgery Re-operations policy for information and coverage criteria for revisions or additional weight loss surgeries.
We encourage members to check with Member Services regarding their health plan benefits for weight loss surgery as well as any provider network limitations that may impact coverage. Member Services can be reached at 952-883-5000 or 1-800-883-2177 (outside the metro area). All members must meet criteria for coverage regardless of where the service is provided.
Weight loss surgery may be eligible for coverage when all of the following criteria are met:
A member has a documented Body Mass Index (BMI) equal to or greater than 40 kg/m2 or a documented BMI greater than 35 kg/m2 with at least one of the following associated health conditions:
- High blood pressure requiring medical management or documentation of blood pressure greater than 140/90 mm/Hg on multiple, separate dates
- Dyslipidemia requiring medical management or documentation of LDL level greater than or equal to 130 mg/dl
- Clinically significant obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) requiring medical management or documentation of OSA confirmed via polysomnography
- Diabetes requiring medical management or documentation of diabetes confirmed by standard testing
- Evidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) confirmed via physical exam, blood tests, and imaging
- Pseudotumor cerebri (a condition in which the pressure around the brain increases, causing headaches and vision problems)
- All candidates for weight loss surgery must have completed all of the following:
- Documentation of an evaluation by a mental health professional which addresses the following:
- The need for any active therapeutic interventions for mental health issues and a plan on how these issues will be addressed;
- The ability of the member to participate in:
- Close nutritional monitoring during rapid weight loss, and
- Long term lifestyle changes;
Weight Loss Surgery Procedures that are eligible for coverage when the above criteria are met. See Definitions section below for an explanation of these procedures:
- Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGBP)
- Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS)
- Sleeve gastrectomy
- Vertical gastric banding (VGB)
- FDA-approved adjustable silicone gastric banding
Indications that are not covered
- The following weight loss procedures are considered investigational as there is insufficient reliable evidence in the form of high-quality, peer-reviewed medical literature to establish the safety and efficacy of these treatments or their effect on health care outcomes. Investigational procedures include but are not limited to:
- The laparoscopic loop or “Mini-Gastric Bypass”
- Intragastric balloon procedures
- Implantable gastric stimulator
- Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES)/endoscopic oral-assisted bariatric surgery procedures, including but not limited to:
- restorative obesity surgery-endoluminal (ROSE)
- Transoral gastroplasty (e.g. TOGA)
- Vagus nerve blocking for obesity control (VBLOC) (e.g. Maestro)
- Stomach aspiration therapy (e.g. AspireAssist)
- Any weight loss/bariatric surgery procedure performed solely to treat co-morbidities caused by or exacerbated by obesity unless in accordance with the criteria listed above is considered investigational. There is insufficient published evidence to support bariatric surgery as a definitive treatment for obesity associated diseases. These types of procedures will frequently improve symptoms of diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), etc. However, the primary purpose of bariatric surgery is to achieve weight loss.
- Weight loss surgery in a member with a BMI less than 35 kg/m2 is considered cosmetic.
Body Mass Index (BMI) provides a guideline for weight in relation to height and is equal to the body weight (in kilograms) divided by the height (in meters) squared. Please see related content at right for link to calculate your BMI.
Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30kg/m2. Obesity is divided into three classifications according to the BMI:
- Class I - BMI 30.0 to 34.9 kg/m2
- Class II - BMI 35.0 to 39.9 kg/m2
- Class III - BMI 40 and above kg/m2
Obesity is a chronic condition that develops from an interaction of genetics and the environment. Because of these multiple factors, weight loss surgery is not considered to be the first or only treatment for obesity. Treatment requires comprehensive medical and behavioral management. Weight loss and weight control programs use multiple interventions and strategies, including individualized dietary therapy, physical activity, life-style/behavior therapy and surgery.
Weight loss surgery is intended to provide weight loss sufficient to reduce mortality risk and improve obesity related medical conditions.
Weight loss surgery is not an alternative to a diet and exercise management program. An integrated program such as HealthPartners’ Weight loss surgery phone course must be in place to provide guidance on diet, physical activity, and behavioral and social support both prior to and after the surgery. Weight loss surgery is a weight loss intervention option for well-informed, motivated individuals with an acceptable operative risk.
Descriptions of bariatric surgery procedures:
Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGBP) 43644, 43846
The RYGBP works via restriction and malabsorption. . Reduction of the stomach to a small gastric pouch (30 cc) results in feelings of satiety following even small meals. This small pouch is connected to a segment of the jejunum, bypassing the duodenum and very proximal small intestine, thereby reducing absorption. RYGBP procedures can be open or laparoscopic.
Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPD/DS) 43845
BPD works via restriction and malabsorption. The stomach is partially resected, but the remaining capacity is generous compared to that achieved with RYGBP. As such, members eat relatively normal-sized meals and do not need to restrict intake radically, since the most proximal areas of the small intestine (i.e., the duodenum and jejunum) are bypassed, and substantial malabsorption occurs. The partial BPD with duodenal switch is a variant of the BPD procedure. It involves resection of the greater curvature of the stomach, preservation of the pyloric sphincter, and transection of the duodenum above the ampulla of Vater with a duodeno-ileal anastamosis and a lower ileo-ileal anastamosis. BPD/DS procedures can be open or laparoscopic.
Sleeve Gastrectomy 43775
Sleeve gastrectomy is a restrictive procedure in which the majority of the greater curvature of the stomach is removed and a tubular stomach is created, thus reducing stomach volume. It may be the first step in a two-stage procedure when performing RYGBP. Sleeve gastrectomy procedures can be open or laparoscopic.
Vertical Gastric Banding (VGB) 43842
VGB works via restriction only. The upper part of the stomach is stapled, creating a narrow gastric inlet or pouch that remains connected with the remainder of the stomach. In addition, a non-adjustable band is placed around this new inlet in an attempt to prevent future enlargement of the stoma (opening). As a result, members experience a sense of fullness after eating small meals.
Adjustable Gastric Banding (AGB) 43770-43774; 43886-43888; S2083
AGB works via restriction only. A band creating a gastric pouch with a capacity of approximately 15 to 30 cc’s encircles the uppermost portion of the stomach. The band is an inflatable doughnut-shaped balloon, the diameter of which can be adjusted in the clinic by adding or removing saline via a port that is positioned beneath the skin. The bands are adjustable, allowing the size of the gastric outlet to be modified as needed, depending on the rate of a member’s weight loss. AGB procedures are laparoscopic only.
Laparoscopic loop or Mini-Gastric Bypass
Mini-Gastric Bypass works via restriction and malabsorption. The stomach is divided and a small tube of stomach is created which becomes the pouch. Then the surgeon brings up a loop of bowel and joins it to the lower part of the stomach pouch. The food passes from the stomach pouch into the small bowel where it meets the digestive juices which have moved downwards from the main part of the stomach. Thus, approximately 6 feet of small bowel has been bypassed before absorption of food (and calories) can take place, producing weight loss via fewer calories being absorbed.
Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES)
This is a general term for procedures which may also be referred to as endoluminal or transoral incisionless surgery because they involve using the natural orifice (e.g. mouth) to perform the surgical procedure, thus minimizing or eliminating access incisions.
StomaphX is a device which is inserted endoscopically and used to create permanent folds in the stomach wall using a specific type of fastener. This reduces the size of the stomach and the amount of food a person can eat. The folds can also slow the passage of food through the stomach to prolong the feeling of fullness to further facilitate weight loss.
Restorative Obesity Surgery, Endoluminal (ROSE) is an endoscopic procedure that is used to treat expansion of the gastric pouch and subsequent weight gain following gastric bypass surgery. The stomach pouch is reduced in size using a device such as the StomaphX.
Intragastric balloon systems are acid –resistant balloons that are inserted into the stomach via endoscope and then expanded with saline or air. The balloons occupy space and promote weight loss by creating a feeling of fullness which can lead to decreased food consumption. The device is in place for approximately 6 months before being retrieved.
Implantable gastric stimulators for treatment of obesity are intended to induce early satiety and thus limit intake through electrical stimulation of the gastric wall.
Transoral gastroplasty (TG) is a minimally invasive, incision-less, reversible weight-loss procedure in which the stomach size is restricted with staples or sutures by using endoscopic surgical tools guided through the mouth and esophagus into the stomach.
Stomach Aspiration Therapy involves placement of gastrostomy tube through the skin in the abdomen. The tube is used to drain gastric contents after meal consumption. The AspireAssist is a system which allows instillation of fluid into the stomach and partial aspiration of ingested meals.
If available, codes are listed below for informational purposes only, and do not guarantee member coverage or provider reimbursement. The list may not be all-inclusive.
Services associated with the following codes are eligible for coverage when medical coverage criteria are met:
Laparoscopy, surgical, gastric restrictive procedure; with gastric bypass and Roux-en-Y gastroenterostomy (roux limb 150 cm or less)
Laparoscopy, surgical, gastric restrictive procedure; with gastric bypass and small intestine reconstruction to limit absorption
Laparoscopy, surgical, gastric restrictive procedure; placement of adjustable gastric restrictive device (eg, gastric band and subcutaneous port components)
Laparoscopy, surgical, gastric restrictive procedure; longitudinal gastrectomy (ie, sleeve gastrectomy
Gastric restrictive procedure, without gastric bypass, for morbid obesity;vertical banded gastroplasty
Gastric restrictive procedure, without gastric bypass, for morbid obesity; other than vertical-banded gastroplasty
Gastric restrictive procedure with partial gastrectomy, pylorus-preserving duodenoileostomy and ileoileostomy (50 to 100 cm common channel) to limit absorption (biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch)
Gastric restrictive procedure, with gastric bypass for morbid obesity; with short limb (150 cm or less) Roux-en-Y gastroenterostomy
Gastric restrictive procedure, with gastric bypass for morbid obesity; with small intestine reconstruction to limit absorption
Services associated with the following codes may be covered when medical coverage criteria are met:
Unlisted laparoscopy procedure, stomach
Services associated with the following codes are considered investigational:
Unlisted procedure, stomach when used to describe one of the investigational services listed above
When used for weigh loss - Insertion or replacement of peripheral or gastric neurostimulator pulse generator or receiver, direct or inductive coupling (Note – this code may be covered for indications other than for weight loss).
Vagus nerve blocking therapy (morbid obesity); laparoscopic implantation of neurostimulator electrode array, anterior and posterior vagal trunks adjacent to esophagogastric junction (EGJ), with implantation of pulse generator, includes programming
Vagus nerve blocking therapy (morbid obesity); laparoscopic revision or replacement of vagal trunk neurostimulator electrode array, including connection to existing pulse generator
Vagus nerve blocking therapy (morbid obesity); laparoscopic removal of vagal trunk neurostimulator electrode array and pulse generator
Vagus nerve blocking therapy (morbid obesity); removal of pulse generator
Vagus nerve blocking therapy (morbid obesity); replacement of pulse generator
Vagus nerve blocking therapy (morbid obesity); neurostimulator pulse generator electronic analysis, includes reprogramming when performed
CPT Copyright American Medical Association. All rights reserved. CPT is a registered trademark of the American Medical Association.
This information is for most, but not all, HealthPartners plans. Please read your plan documents to see if your plan has limits or will not cover some items. If there is a difference between this general information and your plan documents, your plan documents will be used to determine your coverage. These coverage criteria may not apply to Medicare Products if Medicare requires different coverage. For more information regarding Medicare coverage criteria or for a copy of a Medicare coverage policy, contact Member Services at 952-883-7979 or 1-800-233-9645.
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- 01/01/1994 - Date of origin
- 03/01/2019 - Effective date