Medicare covers chiropractic services only for the correction of vertebral subluxation. Other chiropractic services are not covered by Original Medicare.
What are chiropractic treatments?
Chiropractic services are a form of alternative medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, with a focus on spinal manipulation and manual therapy to treat issues related to the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.
Chiropractors use their hands or a small instrument to apply a controlled, sudden force to a joint to improve joint mobility and reduce pain. They may also use other techniques such as massage, stretching, and exercise to help alleviate pain and improve function.
What are the chiropractic benefits?
It always depends on your individual circumstances but some of the potential benefits of chiropractic care may include:
Chiropractic adjustments and other manual therapies can help relieve pain in the back, neck, and other areas of the body, in addition to regular pain medications.
Improved range of motion
Chiropractic adjustment can boost joint mobility and help increase the range of motion, for conditions such as arthritis.
Chiropractic care can help with tension headaches and other types of headaches that originate from issues in the neck and spine.
Chiropractic care can help reduce inflammation in the body, for conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Improved overall health
Chiropractic care might improve overall health and wellness by reducing stress, improving sleep quality, and boosting the immune system.
Does Medicare cover chiropractic services?
Yes, under limited circumstances. According to Medicare.gov, Medicare Part B covers a chiropractor specifically for manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation.
Medicare coverage must be for medically necessary chiropractic adjustments which address a specific problem (not for preventive care or maintenance adjustments).
This coverage is for outpatient treatment for both acute and chronic spinal conditions by licensed chiropractors or other qualified provider.
Medicare Part B will not cover the cost of a physician-ordered X-ray that’s used to verify that a spinal subluxation needs treatment. Most spinal subluxations can be diagnosed without an X-ray.
Does Medicare cover chiropractic care like other services or tests ordered by a chiropractor, such as X-rays, massage therapy, or acupuncture? No, other services are not included, unless the acupuncture is for the treatment of chronic low back pain.
What is subluxation of the spine in chiropractic care?
When the bones in the spine, known as vertebrae, become misaligned or separated, it is called subluxation.
This can cause a range of symptoms including pain, stiffness, headaches, increased inflammation, fibrosis, muscle atrophy, etc.
Chiropractic treatment for spinal subluxation involves the use of manual adjustments, performed by hand, to help realign the vertebrae and alleviate the associated symptoms.
How much chiropractic care will Medicare cover?
Medicare covers chiropractic visits if the manual manipulation of the spine is deemed medically necessary. It means that it’s required to diagnose, treat, or manage a specific illness, injury, condition, or disease, including related symptoms, and that it meets the accepted standards of medical practice.
How many chiropractic visits does Medicare cover?
Does Medicare cover chiropractic care on an unlimited basis? Yes, Medicare will cover chiropractic visits involving spinal manipulation as long as the treatment is still considered medically necessary according to the established criteria.
But you will need to show the ongoing treatment is “reasonable and necessary” through a spinal exam to assess the improvement and evaluate the treatment effectiveness in order for Medicare to continue to pay for chiropractic.
Your cost for a chiropractor visit with Original Medicare
Chiropractic services are covered under Medicare Part B, outpatient services. With Medicare Part B, Medicare pays 80% of the approved amount after you have satisfied the annual deductible.
Ancillary chiropractic services covered by Medicare
Does Medicare pay for ancillary chiropractic treatments? Many chiropractors offer additional services that complement traditional spinal manipulation or address medical issues beyond the spine. Some of these services may be covered by Original Medicare.
For instance, services such as physical therapy and rehabilitation are likely to be covered if they are ordered by a physician.
Moreover, Original Medicare may also cover services for pre-existing health conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, fibromyalgia, or sciatica. However, in these cases, Medicare may require physician authorization before coverage is approved.
Chiropractic treatments not covered by Medicare
Unfortunately, under Original Medicare, visits to a chiropractor for ancillary services, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and other treatments deemed “not medically necessary,” are generally not covered.
Some chiropractors may also provide additional services like cupping therapy, laser treatments, and general wellness programs. However, Original Medicare is not likely to cover these services.
Click here for a more detailed article on what Medicare does not cover.
Do Medicare Advantage plans cover a chiropractor?
Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage Plans, may provide coverage for chiropractic treatment not covered by Original Medicare. Every Medicare Advantage plan is different, so check your annual Summary of Benefits.
The specific benefits will depend on the Medicare Advantage plan so check with your provider or contact us for more questions.
Remember, full reimbursement for these Medicare plans is contingent upon using an in-network healthcare provider. With an Advantage plan, always double-check that a chiropractor is within your network before seeking treatment from them.
Do Medigap plans cover chiropractic services?
If you have Medigap coverage, the same restrictions and exclusions that apply to Medicare Part B chiropractic services also apply here. A supplement will only cover their part of the Medicare bill if Medicare approves the treatment.
Meaning, Medicare chiropractic coverage is only available for medically necessary manual manipulation of the spine.
Do you still have questions about which Medicare plan will pay for chiropractic the most?
Contact us and let us answer all your Medicare-related questions honestly and efficiently! We pride ourselves on representing your best interest and providing high-quality Medicare information to our customers.