Prior Authorizations and Pre-Service Reviews

At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE), protecting members is a top priority. Through research and medical policy, developing and implementing guidelines that encourage member safety continues to be necessary. Utilization management programs, such as pre-service reviews and prior authorizations, provide effective ways to manage member safety and the volume of health care services delivered.

BCBSNE has two prior authorization/pre-service programs designed to keep member safety at the forefront. Continue reading to learn more about these programs, in addition to our prior authorization requirement:

Prior Authorization Requirement

As part of our utilization management program, BCBSNE requires prior authorization for certain procedures and services addressed in BCBSNE medical policy. This pre-service review allows us to determine if the procedures are medically necessary and/or investigative, according to the stated criteria and medical policy.  This prior authorization requirement is applicable to all BCBSNE members (except Medicare Supplement and FEP members). Access the list of services, procedures and medical policies requiring authorization (certification) prior to providing the service. Download the Prior Authorization List (pdf, 45 KB; Update 5/31/2018)

It is also important to note that, all investigative denials will be considered provider liability, even if a prior authorization is done and denied as being investigative. These types of denials are currently considered member liability. 

Per BCBSNE’s provider policies and procedures, a provider may only hold a member (covered person) financially liable for a medical necessity or investigative denial only if the provider has advised the member – prior to services being provided – that he or she may be financially liable for the services provided. The provider must give the member an estimate of financial liability.

For a situation where a patient requests services considered not medically necessary and/or investigative and agrees in writing to reimburse the provider, the provider must file a paper claim with the signed patient waiver. If a claim is filed without a waiver and the claim is denied as provider liability (but a waiver was signed prior to the claim being filed), a provider may submit a reconsideration with the waiver.

If a written agreement cannot be obtained, verbal notification may be given by the provider. The verbal notification must be documented in the patient’s medical records at the time the notification is given, and evidence provided to BCBSNE. For all other balances, the provider agrees not to bill or collect any amount from the member.

Prior Authorization FAQ

Have questions about prior authorization requirements? Review a list of frequently asked questions (pdf) and get some answers!

Spine Pain Management

In keeping with our commitment to member safety and promoting continuous quality improvement for services, BCBSNE has entered into an agreement with National Imaging Associates, Inc. (NIA), to implement a spine pain management program.  NIA, a Magellan Health Services company, is an industry-leading organization that delivers innovative solutions for effective health care management.

This program includes prior authorization for two components of non-emergent spine care – outpatient interventional pain management (IPM) services, and inpatient and outpatient cervical and lumbar spine surgeries – for all BCBSNE members, excluding those covered by the following groups or products:

  • Federal Employee Program
    • Basic plan with no out-of-network coverage
    • Standard plan with out-of-network coverage
  • Medicare Supplemental
  • Nebraska Department of Correctional Services
  • Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
  • University of Nebraska student athletes

BCBSNE will oversee the program and continue to be responsible for claims adjudication and medical policies. NIA Magellan will manage non-emergent, outpatient IPM services, along with inpatient and outpatient cervical and lumbar spine surgeries.

Sinus Surgeries, Hysterectomies and Endometrial Ablations

With increased utilization in clinical areas such as hysterectomies and sinus surgeries, there is concern that members may be undergoing unnecessary surgical procedures, which impacts patient safety.

To that effect, BCBSNE requires a pre-service review for BCBSNE members and their dependents (excluding FEP and Medicare Supplement members) for the following procedures:

  • Endometrial ablations
  • Hysterectomy
  • Hysteroscopy
  • Sinus surgeries

As part of the prior authorization process, BCBSNE will use nationally vetted medical necessity criteria from McKesson. McKesson uses InterQual® criteria, which influences appropriate care with rule-based, patient-specific decision support using evidence-based medicine.

Additional Information

Radiology Preauthorization Program through Clear Coverage

BCBSNE performs radiology reviews for the following services using Clear Coverage, a web-based preauthorization tool.

  • Computed Tomography (CT/CTA)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI/MRA)
  • Nuclear Cardiology
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
If the services listed above are not preauthorized, claims may be denied and you may be responsible for payment of the charges.

Please note: Plain radiology films, imaging studies performed in conjunction with emergency room services and inpatient hospitalizations are excluded from this requirement.

Visit to create your Clear Coverage user account today. Once you create your account, log in at

For additional information on Clear Coverage, please utilize the following resources:

  • For help with clinical questions, call Medical Support at 402-982-8870 or 888-236-3870.
  • To request a password reset for Clear Coverage or for help navigating the Clear Coverage tool, call Provider Solutions at 402-982-7711, select option 4 then option 1.
  • To determine the status of a preauthorization or to ask questions about a denial, call Customer Service at 800-642-8516.


Day One Precertification Review Program through Clear Coverage

BCBSNE requires precertification for all acute (non-emergency) inpatient and observation admissions to hospitals or facilities on or before the first day of admission.

Provider Resources:
  • Clear Coverage IP Authorization Training Guide (coming soon)
  • Day One Help Sheet (coming soon)
  • PowerPoint Presentation (coming soon)



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