Coverage

Does Medicare Cover Massage Therapy?

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published October 08, 2020 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

Although Medicare does not cover massage therapy because it is considered an alternative therapy, it will cover some physical and occupational therapy services if they are considered medically necessary.

Learn more about your Medicare benefits below, including the types of therapy services covered by Part B. 

Man gets massage therapy on shoulders

Why Isn't Massage Therapy Covered By Medicare?

There are all sorts of chronic diseases and conditions that massage therapy is recommended for as treatment, including lower back pain, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel, high blood pressure, migraines, fibromyalgia and cancer-related pain.

The reason Medicare doesn't cover therapeutic massage is because it's categorized by the government as Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) doesn't define massage therapy as an essential benefit or widely accepted medical practice, so it's difficult to verify it as treatment (at least for insurance purposes).

Medicare Part B Only Covers Certain Types of Therapy

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) pays for certain medically necessary forms of therapy, including some physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology services.

In some cases, Medicare may also cover chiropractic services, but only if it's considered medically necessary to correct a subluxation of the spine.

Even if a therapy service is covered by Medicare, there are annual coverage limits that may limit how many times you can get certain therapy services per year. If you go beyond the annual coverage limit and do not receive an exception, you will be responsible for the full amount of the service.

 

Medicare Supplement Insurance can help cover your out-of-pocket therapy costs.

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