What Can I Do If My Insurance Company Has Denied Coverage For My Abdominal Panniculectomy?

Q: I am in need of an abdominal panniculectomy but my insurance has denied me saying it is cosmetic. They denied me saying it is not medically necessary because it is not preventing me from being functional. I have plenty of documentation with all my medical care providers in support of this need. What can I do?

A: The request for abdominal panniculectomies , or an amputation of overhanging abdominal skin and fat, from insurance companies is very common. As a result, they have a very specific set of criteria to be eligible for coverage. These typically include the following; a pannus that hangs down onto the thighs (photographs are required), a documented history of recurrent skin infections underneath the pannus that requires topical medications, and a six month history of these recurring skin infections that has failed non-surgical treatments.

If a proper predetermination has been done and the insurance company has denied it, then there is nothing you can do. You are legally entitled to an appeal of which they tell you how to do it on their denial paperwork. But once an appeal has been denied then that debate is over. The insurance company controls what they will pay for or won’t pay for. Their determination is based on their policy requirements and the determination of their medical director. They obviously have determined, no matter how unfair you think it may be, that your abdominal pannus does not qualify. Your only option is to have the procedure done on a cosmetic fee basis.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana