Does Medicare Cover Massage Therapy? 

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Massage therapy is a therapeutic practice that involves working on the tissues throughout the body. There are a variety of different techniques that can be used for massage, and each carries its own benefits. This type of therapy can be very beneficial for relieving muscle pain, preventing migraines and headaches, eliminating muscle compensations, and more. In the majority of cases, Medicare insurance does not provide coverage for massage therapy, but there may a few select instances in which it may be covered by your insurance.

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage has been practiced for many centuries, and it was one of the first medical therapies used to attempt to relieve pain. Because it is used all over the world, many different techniques have arisen to address certain types of issues. Some techniques are designed to promote total body relaxation, others target specific muscles and problem spots related to sports injuries, and some massage techniques attempt to promote healing by breaking up scar tissue and restoring tissue function.

Regardless of the specific technique used, massage therapy has been shown to have a wide range of benefits. When you think about the benefits of massage, those related to physical function are most commonly brought up. Some of these can include alleviating muscle and joint pain, promoting flexibility, and reducing swelling following an injury or surgical procedure.

This can make massage therapy a highly beneficial treatment option for a variety of diseases and conditions. Some of these can include carpal tunnel, lower back pain, arthritis, cancer-related pain, migraine, edema, and more.

In addition to physical benefits, massage therapy can carry a number of mental and emotional benefits as well. These can include eliminating stress, improving sleep quality and reducing general tiredness, and flushing toxins and other harmful chemicals out of the body.

Is Massage Therapy Included in Medicare Coverage?

For the majority of Medicare recipients, massage therapy is not covered by Medicare. Medicare Part A and Part B require that all covered services are medically necessary, and they generally do not find massage therapy to fit in that category because it is considered an alternative treatment. Medicare coverage is available for other types of therapy, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology therapy.

All of these other types of therapy are covered by Medicare Part B, which serves to cover medically necessary outpatient services and any services or supplies that are required to prevent medical issues or injuries. However, if massage is not deemed to be medically necessary in your specific case, Medicare will not provide coverage and you will be responsible for paying 100 percent of the costs associated with your treatment.

A an alternative to Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, plans may provide coverage for massage therapy depending on an individual’s health. These MA plans are offered through private insurance companies and contract with Medicare to provide the same Part A and Part B coverage as Original Medicare. Many plans provide additional services and may include coverage for prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, hearing exams, and general health and wellness programs.

While Medicare Advantage plans usually will not fully cover massage therapy, they may offer massage services as a benefit. Check with your plan directly to find out more about any coverage for massage therapy.

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