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Prior Authorization for Chemotherapy and Related Cancer Therapies

Register Now for Care Provider Training: Our Prior Authorization Process for Injectable Chemotherapy is Changing

On Feb. 1, 2019, Optum will start managing the online request process for outpatient injectable chemotherapy and related therapies. This change will apply to UnitedHealthcare commercial members and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan members in Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Texas. As an affiliate of UnitedHealthcare, Optum offers solutions to help improve the care provider experience for transactions such as prior authorization requests. See our 2019 Q1 Care Provider Training Schedule.


To help ensure our member benefit coverage is medically appropriate, we regularly evaluate our medical policies, clinical programs and health benefits based on the latest scientific evidence and specialty society guidance. To support these goals, we require notification/prior authorization for injectable outpatient chemotherapy and related cancer therapies administered in an outpatient setting, including but not limited to intravenous, intravesical and intrathecal for a cancer diagnosis.

These prior authorization requirements apply to all benefit plans outlined in the table under Health Plan Effective Dates.

Injectable Chemotherapy Drugs that Require Prior Authorization:

  • Injectable chemotherapy drugs (J9000-J9999)
  • Leucovorin (J0640), Levoleukovorin (J0641)
  • Injectable chemotherapy drugs that have a Q code
  • Injectable chemotherapy drugs that have not yet received an assigned code and will be billed under a miscellaneous Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code will require prior authorization 

Colony-Stimulating Factors When Requested for Use to Treat a Cancer Diagnosis:1

  • J1442 Filgrastim (Neupogen®)
  • J1447 Tbo-filgrastim (Granix®)
  • J2505 Pegfilgrastim (Neulasta®)
  • J2820 Sargramostim (Leukine®)
  • Q5101 Filgrastim, bio similar (Zarxio®)
  • Q5108 Pegfilgrastim-jmdb (Fulphila™)
  • Q5110 Filgrastim-aafi (Nivestym™)
  • Q5111 Pegfilgrastim-cbqv, biosimilar, (Udenyca™)
  • Colony stimulating factors that have not yet received an assigned code and will be billed under a temporary or miscellaneous HCPCS code will require prior authorization

Bone Modifying Agent When Requested for a Cancer Diagnosis2:

  • J0897 Denosumab

Prior Authorization is NOT Required for the Following3:

  • Oral chemotherapy drugs, which are covered under a member’s pharmacy benefit plan
  • Use of chemotherapy drugs for non-cancer diagnosis  

Adding a new injectable chemotherapy drug, colony stimulating factor or denosumab to a regimen will require new authorization.

Additional details regarding prior authorization requirements for radiopharmacueticals can be found here.

How to Request Prior Authorization

To submit an online request for prior authorization, use the Prior Authorization and Notification tool on Link to submit your request. To access the tool, sign in to Link by going to and clicking on the Link button in the top right corner. Once you’re in the tool, select Oncology, and when prompted, answer the questions about the service type, member type and state.

Please complete all prior authorization requests online. The online system will identify the members who need a prior authorization request submitted. 

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan Members in NJ and NY

  • If you have questions about the authorizations, please call 866-889-8054, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday.

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan Members in AZ, CA, FL, IA, LA, MD, MI, MS, NE, OH, PA, RI, TN, TX, WA and WI, and for UnitedHealthcare Commercial Plans

  • If you have questions about authorizations, please call 888-397-8129, 8a.m. to 5 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday.

UnitedHealthcare Oxford Members

  • To submit an online request for prior authorization, go to > Providers > Submit Chemotherapy Prior Authorization Request > Click Continue > Click Continue again to be redirected to UnitedHealthcare oncology authorization intake website.
  • If you have questions about authorizations for UnitedHealthcare Oxford members, please call 877-773-2884, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday.

Program Questions & Information

UnitedHealthcare uses National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines as independent recommendations for evidence-based cancer treatment.

  • All eligible NCCN-recommended chemotherapy regimens are displayed during the prior authorization process.
  • Physicians can submit clinical information during the authorization process for members with medical contraindications to an NCCN-recommended regimen.
    • To expedite the review process, it’s important for care providers to include the relevant clinical details when requesting prior authorization.
    • Care providers can submit clinical information in a text box (e.g., provide a brief description of why a certain chemotherapy agent cannot be given) and upload relevant documentation for the request during the submission process.
  • Reviews are performed by medical oncologists

Authorizations that follow NCCN regimens will be approved at the time of the request. We respond in three to five days to requests for pediatric chemotherapy regimens, rare cancers or chemotherapy regimens that aren’t NCCN-recommended if necessary supporting documentation is provided at the time of the request.

UnitedHealthcare benefit plans typically require prior authorization for injectable chemotherapy. The benefit plans that do require prior authorization are listed by line of business in alphabetical order UnitedHealthcare Community Plan is listed in alphabetical order and includes the state Medicaid name, if applicable.

UnitedHealthcare Commercial Plans

  • Golden Rule Insurance Company (select group numbers4) - Effective June 1, 2015
  • Neighborhood Health Partnership - Effective May 17, 2014
  • UnitedHealthcare Commercial plans, excluding Indemnity/Options PPO - Effective June 1, 2015
  • UnitedHealthcare Life Insurance Company (select groups4) - Effective June 1, 2015  
  • UnitedHealthcare Oxford commercial plans5 - Effective February 1, 2016

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan

  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Arizona - Effective October 1, 2015
    • Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System/Medicaid
    • Developmentally Disabled
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of California - Effective April 1, 2019
    • Medi-Cal Managed Care
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Florida - Effective May 17, 2014
    • Florida Healthy Kids
    • Medicaid
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Iowa - Effective April 1, 2019
    • Medicaid
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Louisiana - Effective February. 1, 2019
    • Medicaid
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Maryland - Effective April 1, 2016
    • HealthChoice
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Michigan - Effective October 1, 2016
    • Medicaid
    • Excludes Children’s Special Health Care Services and UnitedHealthcare Dual Complete (HMO SNP)
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Mississippi - Effective October 1, 2016 
    • Mississippi Coordinated Access Network (MSCAN)
    • Mississippi Children's Health Insurance Program (MSCHIP)
    • Excludes UnitedHealthcare Dual Complete (HMO SNP)
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Nebraska - Effective November 1, 2018
    • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan-Heritage Health
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in New Jersey - Effective January 1, 2017
    • New Jersey FamilyCare 
    • Excludes UnitedHealthcare Dual Complete® ONE (HMO SNP)
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in New York - Effective February 1, 2017
    • Medicaid Managed Care (MMC), Child Health Plus (CHPlus)
    • Health and Recovery Plan (HARP) otherwise known as Wellness4Me
    • Essential Plan
    • UnitedHealthcare Dual Complete® (Medicare Advantage plan)
    • UnitedHealthcare Dual Advantage (Medicaid Advantage)
    • Excludes Managed Long Term Care (UnitedHealthcare Personal Assist)
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Ohio - Effective October 1, 2016
    • Medicaid
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Pennsylvania - Effective February 1, 2017
    • Medicaid
    • CHIP
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Rhode Island - Effective November 1, 2018
    • Rhode Island Children with Special Health Care Needs
    • Rhode Island UnitedHealthcare Rhody Health Partners ACA Adult Expansion
    • Rhode Island UnitedHealthcare Rhody Health Partners
    • Rhode Island UnitedHealthcare RIte Care
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Texas - Effective January 1, 2017
    • CHIP
    • STAR, STAR+PLUS, and STAR Kids 
    • Excludes UnitedHealthcare Connected® (Medicare and Medicaid Plan) and UnitedHealthcare Dual Complete (HMO SNP)
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Tennessee - Effective June 1, 2016
    • TennCare
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Washington - Effective May 1, 2016
    • Apple Health
  • UnitedHealthcare Community Plan in Wisconsin - Effective October 1, 2016
    • Badger Care


  1. Prior authorization requirement effective October 1, 2017.
  2. Prior authorization requirement effective June1, 2018.
  3. Member coverage documents and health plans may require prior authorization for some non-chemotherapy services. If you have questions, contact the Customer Service phone number on the back of the member’s ID card. Contact the member’s Pharmacy Benefit Plan for questions about oral chemotherapy drugs. 
  4. Some member benefit plans require a primary care physician to initiate a referral to a specialist. Members may also have a specific network service area that reflects the needs of the targeted population.
  5. UnitedHealthcare Oxford makes the coverage determination, not eviCore for chemotherapy requests physicians submit for UnitedHealthcare Oxford members in Rhode Island.
Insurance coverage provided by or through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, All Savers Insurance Company, Oxford Health Insurance, Inc. or their affiliates. Health Plan coverage provided by UnitedHealthcare of Arizona, Inc., UHC of California DBA UnitedHealthcare of California, UnitedHealthcare Benefits Plan of California, UnitedHealthcare of Colorado, Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Oklahoma, Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Oregon, Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Texas, LLC, UnitedHealthcare Benefits of Texas, Inc., UnitedHealthcare of Utah, Inc. and UnitedHealthcare of Washington, Inc., Oxford Health Plans (NJ), Inc. and Oxford Health Plans (CT), Inc. or other affiliates. Administrative services provided by United HealthCare Services, Inc., OptumRx, OptumHealth Care Solutions, LLC, Oxford Health Plans LLC or their affiliates.