Prior authorization

Understanding prior authorization

Medical necessity and enrollee responsibilities

As you navigate your health care, it’s important to note there are certain medical services or provider visits that will require prior authorization by WellFirst Health — Provided by SSM Health Plan. The process below will help walk you through whether your in-plan provider needs to obtain a prior authorization. Services provided in an emergency room do not require a prior authorization. 

Why?

We require prior authorizations so our Utilization Management team can review the medical necessity of the recommended service or visit and make sure you are getting appropriate care. 

Is it covered?

Keep in mind, a prior authorization will not change the benefits under your plan. If a service is an exclusion of your plan a prior authorization will not change the fact that the service is not a covered benefit. If the services are covered under your plan, and your prior authorization is approved, they are still subject to any applicable cost sharing (i.e. copays or deductibles).

To find out if a service is a covered benefit under your plan:


Getting prior authorization

Some medical services require our approval before you receive the service. Our prior authorization process helps ensure you receive medically necessary care at the right time with the right provider. Your plan provider should submit prior authorization requests as soon as possible prior to your scheduled services to ensure a determination can be made prior to their receipt.

Out-of-network physician or specialist

If your provider is recommending you see a specialist outside of the network, they must submit a prior authorization request. You’ll receive our determination by mail or you can call our Customer Care Center to check on the status of the prior authorization.

We recommend that you wait to receive services with an out-of-network provider until you receive a determination from us regarding the authorization your provider has submitted. Be aware that you will be financially responsible for the full cost of any service with an out-of-network provider if the authorization your provider has submitted is denied.

Medical procedure or service

If your provider recommends you receive a procedure or medical service, a prior authorization may be required. If it is required, your provider is responsible for obtaining the approval before providing the procedure or service.

Steps to take

Your provider will help you coordinate the care you need. All plan providers have someone who works on acquiring authorizations for their patients.

When we receive a prior authorization request from your plan provider, we typically decide on requests for prior authorization for medical services within 72 hours of receiving an urgent request or within 15 calendar days for non-urgent requests. Remember, even with a prior authorization, not all services are covered at 100%. You will be responsible for the co-pays and deductibles outlined in your Member Certificate.