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Medicare and Chiropractic: Is It Covered?

Written by 
Molly Burford

Article at a glance

  • Chiropractic is a healthcare profession that focuses on the spine and the joints, using manual methods to correct various types of health issues. 

  • Medicare covers medically-necessary chiropractic care, but only in the event that the chiropractic service in question is a correction of spinal subluxation. 

  • A Medicare Advantage plan will most likely cover chiropractic in the same way. That said, it will depend on the specific plan.

  • Medicare supplement plans do not cover chiropractic visits specifically but can help with the costs of Medicare Part B deductible.

Medicare patients struggling with spinal issues may be interested in seeing a chiropractor in order to find relief and improve their quality of life. But does Medicare pay for chiropractic services? In short, yes, Medicare will cover medically necessary chiropractic services. That said, there are specifics in place for exactly how Medicare coverage functions with this type of care. 

This article will explain everything a Medicare beneficiary needs to know about Medicare and chiropractic.

What Is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a healthcare profession that focuses on the body’s ability to heal itself. Chiropractic services primarily focus on the spine and the joints, using manual manipulation methods. Someone who practices chiropractic is called a chiropractor.

Does Medicare Cover Chiropractic Care?

Medicare covers chiropractic treatments under Medicare Part B (medical insurance). That said, there are specifics in place regarding this.

Medicare will only cover chiropractic care if all of the following are true:

  • It is medically necessary

  • Must be performed by a chiropractor or other qualified provider

  • The chiropractic treatment involves correcting a subluxation

Medicare will not cover any other services besides a subluxation correction when it comes to chiropractic care. In addition, Medicare will not cover the following, even if it is ordered by the chiropractor:

  • X‑rays and other diagnostic tests

  • Massage therapy

  • Most acupuncture services (chronic low back pain is covered, however)

Medicare Costs

Medicare beneficiaries should expect to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount. The Part B deductible also applies. In 2023, the Medicare Part B deductible is $226.

How Much Does A Chiropractic Visit Cost?

How much a chiropractic visit will cost depends on whether the beneficiary has met the Medicare Part B deductible. As well, other insurance, the healthcare provider being seen, the type of facility, medical necessity, etc. will also determine how many chiropractic visits Medicare covers.

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Chiropractic Services?

Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Medicare Part C or MA plans, are supplemental insurance plans contracted through private insurance companies that are Medicare-approved. MA plans bundle Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B together. Many Medicare Advantage plans also include prescription drug coverage.

Because a Medicare Advantage plan combines both Part A and Part B, an MA plan will cover also chiropractic in the same way as Original Medicare.

Chiropractic Care Costs With Medicare Advantage 

Because Medcare Advantage plan benefits vary depending on provider and plan type (e.g. Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, etc.), costs can very greatly between plans. It’s important to speak with your insurance provider to see how much a chiropractic visit costs and how much your insurance will cover. 

Do Medigap Plans Cover Chiropractic Services?

A Medigap plan is a type of Medicare supplement insurance. This Medicare supplement plan helps fill the gaps” of Original Medicare by helping pay out-of-pocket costs, such as Medicare Part B’s yearly deductible.

Does Medicare Pay For Other Options For Pain Management?

There are other options for pain management covered by Medicare, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and acupuncture. Each of these types of pain management treatments is handled by Medicare Part B.

While coverage rules will vary per type of treatment, generally beneficiaries can expect to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount. The Part B deductible will also apply.

Note: Learn more about pain management coverage at this resource.

FAQ

How many chiropractic sessions will Medicare cover?

Medicare does not limit the number of chiropractic sessions a patient can have and will cover up to 80% of costs once the patient has paid their Part B deductible.

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