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Basic requirements

Here are the basic requirements for each type of authorization:

  • Prior approval: this is sought to determine whether a proposed treatment is medically appropriate and follows guidelines widely accepted in the medical community.
  • Notification: unless the need is urgent, we require you to notify us before being admitted to the hospital. Maternity and emergency services are excluded.
  • Precertification: this helps determine whether a service or facility admission is medically necessary. It also details what services will be provided so our clinical teams can help you with a support plan.
  • Preauthorization (radiology): this is needed for non-emergency, outpatient radiology services (also known as diagnostic imaging). It’s performed in a free-standing imaging center, hospital outpatient setting or in-office.
  • Referral: this is a formal notification your personal doctor sends to Wellmark when you need medical services from an out-of-network provider or specialist. The referral must be approved by Wellmark prior to you receiving services.

Who is responsible for authorization submissions?

  • Typically in-network providers complete an authorization for you.
  • Out-of-network providers in Iowa or South Dakota are not required to handle the authorization on your behalf.
  • Always ask your provider if he or she has fulfilled all authorization requirements before care is given.
  • If the out-of-network provider has not submitted a authorization request, call the precertification phone number on your ID card before receiving services.

Why this is important?

If you or the provider do not request an authorization for a service or admission to a facility, the benefit could be reduced or denied on the basis that you did not request an authorization. You could be responsible for a portion or the entire bill. (This only applies to out-of-state services. If the services are provided by a Wellmark contracting provider, it's a provider liability.)

Upon receiving your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) indicating a denial, you will have the opportunity to appeal. You'll be asked to provide medical information to help us determine whether the services were medically necessary and are a benefit covered under your medical plan. After review, if Wellmark determines the service was medically necessary and is a covered benefit, the benefit will be provided according to the terms of your plan.

Why are notifications and pre-certifications important?

Notifications and pre-certifications help Wellmark understand what services you are using. They also help our clinical teams provide help and support when you may need it most. For instance, if you've been admitted to a hospital, we'll contact the facility to understand your discharge plans and assist in creating a support plan. This may include evaluation for home health care services, coordinating follow-up appointments, referrals to case management or referrals to Wellmark's health advocacy service. Support plans help minimize readmissions and post-hospitalization complications.


Certain specialty medications require prior approval. Visit the Authorization & Quantity Limits page to access a complete list of medications requiring a prior approval, the medical policy associated with each one and a form for making your request.

Authorization & Quantity Limits

Pre-service review list

This comprehensive list shows when a specific procedure, service or admission requires an authorization. Remember:

  • Some groups have specific authorization requirements. Always verify your benefits at
  • Prior approvals are valid for a specific length of time. If there’s a service date change and the new date remains within the defined authorization period, it’s not necessary to update or complete a new prior approval. However, if there’s a change in your benefit plan, a new prior approval submission is required.
  • An authorization number is not a guarantee of member benefits. Payment is based on the member's eligibility and plan coverage when the service is provided.

  • Abdominoplasty and Panniculectomy
  • Adoptive Immunotherapy/Car-T Cell Therapy
  • Air Ambulance (Non-Emergency)
  • Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant
  • Autologous Stem Cell Transplant
  • BRCA1 and BRCA2 Tests
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Blepharoplasty
  • Bone Growth Stimulation Devices
  • Cochlear Implant
  • Cranial Remolding
  • Custom Fabricated Knee Braces
  • Facility Based Sleep Studies
  • Gender Affirmation Surgery
  • Heart Transplant
  • Heart/Lung Transplant
  • Implantable Bone Conduction Hearing Devices
  • Knee Arthroplasty
  • Laminectomy/Hemi-Laminectomy
  • Liver Transplant
  • Lung and Lobar Transplant
  • Lutathera (Lutetium Lu 177 Dotatate)
  • Mastectomy for Gynecomastia
  • Microprocessor Controlled Prostheses for the Lower Limb
  • Motorized Wheelchair and Other Power Operated Vehicles
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Testing
  • Myoelectric Prostheses for the Upper Limb
  • Negative Pressure Wound Therapy
  • Pancreas Transplants (including simultaneous pancreas-kidney, pancreas alone, and pancreas after kidney)
  • Percutaneous Neuroblation
  • Proton Beam Radiotherapy
  • Reduction Mammoplasty
  • Rhinoplasty
  • Small Bowel Transplant
  • Small Bowel/Liver and Multivisceral Transplant
  • Speech Generating Devices
  • Spinal Fusion
  • Subcutaneous Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
  • Treatment of Speech and Language Disorders
  • Varicose Vein Treatment

  • CT Sinus
  • CTA Abdomen/Pelvis Combination
  • MRA Head
  • MRA Neck
  • MRI Abdomen
  • MRI Brain
  • MRI Cardiac
  • MRI Cervical Spine
  • MRI Lower Extremity
  • MRI Lumbar Spine
  • MRI Pelvis
  • MRI Thoracic Spine
  • MRI Upper Extremity
  • PET Myocardial Imaging
  • PET Tumor/PET Chest

  • Acute Inpatient - Out of State
  • Home Health Care
  • Long Term Acute Care LTAC
  • Psychiatric Mental Institution for Children Inpatient (Iowa only)
  • Rehabilitation Inpatient
  • Residential Inpatient
  • Skilled Nursing Facility Inpatient

  • Acute Inpatient - In State

Referrals for out-of-network services