does united health care cover gastric sleeve


Are you considering gastric sleeve surgery as a solution for weight loss but unsure if United Healthcare covers the procedure? Navigating the world of health insurance can be challenging, especially when it comes to understanding coverage for specific surgeries like bariatric procedures.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the essentials of gastric sleeve surgery and explore whether or not United Healthcare provides coverage for this life-changing operation.

Key Takeaways

  • United Healthcare covers gastric sleeve surgery for those who meet certain criteria such as having a BMI of 40 or greater, or a BMI of 35-39 with related health issues like diabetes or sleep apnea.
  • Patients should check their policy documents and contact customer service to confirm coverage and understand out-of-pocket costs.
  • Other bariatric surgical options covered by United Healthcare include lap band and gastric bypass surgeries.
  • Before pursuing weight loss surgery, patients must undergo pre-surgery requirements such as comprehensive medical evaluation and weight loss programs to reduce their BMI.

Understanding Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric Sleeve Surgery is a weight loss procedure that involves reducing the size of the stomach by removing a large portion of it, leaving behind a smaller sleeve-shaped pouch.

What Is It?

Gastric sleeve surgery, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, is a popular weight loss procedure in which a portion of the stomach is removed to reduce its size. This results in a small, banana-shaped “sleeve” that can hold significantly less food than before – typically about 15% of its original capacity.

Patients undergoing this procedure feel full more quickly after eating smaller portions and experience reduced hunger levels due to altered hormone production.

For example, imagine someone who previously could comfortably eat an entire pizza for dinner; after gastric sleeve surgery, they might only be able to finish one or two slices before feeling completely full.


Gastric sleeve surgery, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, is a weight loss procedure that involves reducing the size of your stomach by 80-85%. This restriction in stomach size helps you to feel full faster and for longer periods.

The benefits of this surgery go beyond just weight loss since it has been associated with improving or even resolving several obesity-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and joint pain.

In fact, studies have shown that some patients who undergo gastric sleeve surgery can experience up to an 80% reduction in their excess body weight within two years after the procedure.

United Healthcare Coverage For Weight Loss Surgery

United Healthcare offers coverage for weight loss surgery, but there are certain criteria that must be met.

Criteria For Coverage

Before considering gastric sleeve surgery, it’s important to understand the criteria required for coverage by United Healthcare. First and foremost, weight loss surgery is typically only covered when deemed medically necessary due to a patient’s BMI (body mass index) being over 40 or between 35-39.9 with at least one obesity-related medical condition.

It’s also worth noting that United Healthcare covers certain types of bariatric procedures as “core” procedures within their plan requirements. These include gastric bypass, lap gastric bands, sleeve gastrectomy, and duodenal switch surgery.

Other factors that may impact coverage include whether an in-network or out-of-network provider is used and any limitations stated in the policy documents.

Types Of Bariatric Procedures Covered

United Healthcare offers coverage for various types of bariatric procedures, which are specifically designed to help individuals who struggle with obesity. These core bariatric procedures include gastric bypass surgery, lap gastric bands, duodenal switch surgery, and sleeve gastrectomy.

Gastric bypass involves reducing the size of the stomach and rerouting the small intestine to promote weight loss. Lap gastric bands involve placing a silicone band around the upper portion of the stomach to limit food intake.

It is important to note that not all bariatric surgical procedures may be covered by United Healthcare. Coverage will depend on factors such as medical necessity, body mass index (BMI), and preauthorization requirements outlined in your insurance plan’s summary plan descriptions.

United Healthcare Coverage For Gastric Sleeve

United Healthcare provides coverage for gastric sleeve surgery based on its coverage policies and criteria, including in-network vs.

Coverage Policies And Criteria

United Healthcare provides coverage for bariatric surgical procedures, including the gastric sleeve surgery. However, their coverage policies and criteria are dependent on various factors.

Firstly, the patient must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher or a BMI of 35 with related health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure to qualify for coverage under their plan’s obesity policy.

It’s also important to note that while United Healthcare offers in-network and out-of-network coverage options, they typically prefer patients work with in-network providers whenever possible.

Out-of-pocket costs will vary depending on the specific plan details and deductibles outlined by each individual insurance provider.

In-network Vs. Out-of-network Coverage

It’s important to understand the difference between in-network and out-of-network coverage when it comes to bariatric surgery with United Healthcare. In-network coverage means that the surgeon or hospital you select is part of United Healthcare’s network, which can help lower your out-of-pocket costs.

For example, if you choose an in-network surgeon for a gastric sleeve procedure, your coinsurance may be 20% after meeting your deductible. However, if you choose an out-of-network surgeon, your coinsurance could be as high as 50% or more.

Requirements For Coverage

To qualify for United Healthcare coverage for gastric sleeve surgery, there are certain requirements that you must meet. First and foremost, you need to have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40 or a BMI of 35 with an obesity-related health condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Furthermore, all patients who undergo bariatric surgery are required to participate in a medically supervised weight loss program before and after the procedure. This may involve working with dietitians or physical therapists to develop lifestyle changes that promote long-term weight management success.


While United Healthcare does provide coverage for gastric sleeve surgery, there are some limitations you should be aware of. First and foremost, the procedure must be medically necessary to treat morbid obesity, which typically means having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.

It’s also important to note that while United Healthcare covers many bariatric surgical procedures, not all procedures are considered core bariatric procedures and may not be covered.

For example, weight loss injections or non-surgical weight loss programs may not be included in the insurance coverage.

Confirming Coverage For Gastric Sleeve

To confirm coverage for gastric sleeve, it’s important to check your policy documents and contact United Healthcare customer service. Understanding out-of-pocket costs is also crucial.

Checking Policy Documents

Before considering gastric sleeve surgery, it’s important to determine if you have insurance coverage with United Healthcare. To do this, check your policy documents carefully and look for information on bariatric surgery coverage.

This is usually included in the summary plan description (SPD) or the evidence of coverage (EOC).

Make sure to read through the criteria carefully as not all plans cover weight loss surgeries. If you’re unsure about any part of your policy or need more information, don’t hesitate to contact United Healthcare customer service directly.

They can provide you with specific details regarding your plan and what is covered under it.

Contacting United Healthcare Customer Service

If you are interested in getting gastric sleeve surgery and have a United Healthcare insurance plan, it’s important to confirm whether or not they cover the procedure. The best way to find out is by contacting their customer service team directly.

You can do this by calling the number on the back of your insurance card or by visiting their website and using the online chat feature. Be prepared to provide your policy details and ask specific questions about coverage criteria, preauthorization requirements, and any out-of-pocket costs you might incur.

If you’re having trouble understanding their policies or navigating through different options, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification or assistance from a representative.

Understanding Out-of-pocket Costs

Before undergoing any weight loss surgery, it’s essential to understand the out-of-pocket costs that may be associated with it. Even if United Healthcare covers gastric sleeve surgery, you will likely have some expenses to pay for yourself.

This can include deductibles, copays, and coinsurance fees that are not covered by your insurance plan.

For instance, suppose you decide to undergo gastric sleeve surgery at an out-of-network facility. In that case, you may incur additional charges beyond what United Healthcare covers.

You’ll also need to factor in the cost of pre-operative tests and consultations as well as medications and follow-up appointments after the procedure is done.

Alternatives To Gastric Sleeve Surgery

If you’re not a candidate for gastric sleeve surgery, don’t worry! There are other options available to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Lap Band Surgery

Another bariatric surgery option covered by United Healthcare is Lap Band Surgery. This procedure involves an adjustable band being placed around the upper part of the stomach, creating a smaller area for food intake.

Patients typically experience significant weight loss in the first year after surgery and can continue to lose weight over time with proper diet and exercise.

Patients considering Lap Band Surgery should also be aware of potential risks and complications such as band slippage or erosion, which may require additional procedures to correct.

Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric Bypass Surgery is one of the most common weight loss surgeries performed in the United States. This procedure involves dividing the stomach into a small upper pouch and a larger lower pouch, then connecting the small intestine to both.

The smaller stomach can only hold about an ounce of food at a time, which leads to feeling full faster and eating less overall.

While Gastric Sleeve Surgery has become more popular in recent years, Gastric Bypass Surgery still has its benefits for certain patients with higher BMI levels or comorbidities like diabetes or high blood pressure.

What To Expect During The Gastric Sleeve Surgery Process

Before the surgery, you will need to undergo certain pre-surgery requirements such as comprehensive medical evaluation and weight loss programs to reduce your body mass index (BMI).

During the surgery itself, a portion of your stomach will be removed through several small incisions. The procedure typically takes about 1-2 hours. Afterward, patients can expect to stay in the hospital for 1-3 days and then return home to follow a strict diet plan for several weeks or months.

Pre-surgery Requirements

Before undergoing gastric sleeve surgery, patients will need to meet certain pre-surgery requirements. First and foremost, patients must have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, or a BMI of 35-39 with related health issues such as diabetes or sleep apnea.

Patients will also need to demonstrate that they have attempted non-surgical weight loss methods without significant success.

It’s important for individuals considering gastric sleeve surgery to carefully review their insurance plan requirements before moving forward with the process. In order for insurance coverage to apply, certain preauthorization steps may be necessary.

This may include obtaining documentation from medical professionals that demonstrate the patient has met all criteria for medically necessary bariatric surgery procedures such as gastric sleeve surgery.

The Surgery Itself

During the gastric sleeve surgery, a surgeon removes a portion of your stomach to make it smaller and limit its capacity to hold food. The procedure is typically done laparoscopically, using small incisions in your abdomen.

After the procedure, you’ll spend some time in recovery before being moved to a hospital room. Most patients stay in the hospital for one or two days after surgery. During this time, you’ll be given pain medication and monitored for any complications post-operation.

Post-surgery Recovery

After the surgery, patients will need to follow a strict diet and exercise regimen to help their body heal properly. The first few days after surgery, patients will be on a clear liquid diet before gradually transitioning to pureed foods and eventually solid foods over several weeks.

In addition, patients should expect some discomfort and pain during the recovery process. However, most people are able to return home within just a few days after surgery.

It’s important for patients to follow all post-operative instructions carefully as directed by their doctor in order to prevent complications like infection or bleeding.


– How does the approval process for gastric sleeve surgery with United Healthcare work?

– What are the costs associated with getting gastric sleeve surgery covered by insurance?

– What are the success rates of gastric sleeve surgery?

Approval Process

Getting approval for gastric sleeve surgery through United Healthcare involves meeting certain criteria and fulfilling specific requirements. First, your body mass index (BMI) must be 40 or more, or it should be between 35-39 with at least one obesity-related health condition.

Once you meet these initial qualifications, your surgeon will work with your insurance company to complete preauthorization paperwork. This process can take some time as the insurer reviews your medical history and the necessity of the surgery.


The cost of gastric sleeve surgery can vary, depending on a variety of factors such as location and insurance coverage. Without insurance, the average cost for this procedure ranges from $10,000 to $20,000.

However, United Healthcare may cover some or all of the costs if the patient meets certain criteria. It is important to check with your plan’s summary plan descriptions or contact customer service to determine if you are eligible for coverage and what out-of-pocket expenses you may incur.

Success Rates

It’s natural to wonder about the success rates of gastric sleeve surgery when considering it as an option for weight loss. The good news is that studies show significant weight loss and improvements in comorbidities like diabetes and hypertension following the procedure.

According to a study published in Obesity Surgery, patients had an average percentage of excess weight loss (EWL) of 64% after two years. Another study found that almost 90% of patients experienced improvement or resolution of their type 2 diabetes within six months post-surgery.

Conclusion And Final Thoughts

In conclusion, United Healthcare does cover gastric sleeve surgery for those who meet specific criteria. It is important to understand the coverage policies and requirements before pursuing this bariatric procedure.

Alternatives such as lap band or gastric bypass surgery may also be covered by insurance plans. Patients should familiarize themselves with their policy documents, reach out to customer service for confirmation of coverage, and prepare for potential out-of-pocket costs.

Ultimately, weight loss surgery can significantly improve quality of life and overall health for those struggling with obesity.

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