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Is Acupuncture Covered Under Medicare?


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Summary: Medicare Advantage plans may cover acupuncture as a medical treatment.

Does Medicare cover acupuncture? Today’s acupuncture was developed from techniques first developed in China thousands of years ago. It generally consists of stimulating nerves through the use of small needles inserted in the skin. The National Institute of Health suggests acupuncture can help with pain management and may have other applications

Does Medicare cover acupuncture?

Since researchers have conducted scientific studies and found possible value in this traditional practice, does Medicare cover acupuncture? Acupuncture is still mostly considered a kind of alternative treatment. Unfortunately, Original Medicare generally does not cover acupuncture. If you rely upon Medicare Part A and B for your Medicare coverage, you will generally have to pay the entire cost for this kind of alternative medicine.

Does Medicare Advantage cover acupuncture?

While basic Medicare won’t cover acupuncture, you might join a Medicare Advantage plan that does offer benefits for this type of treatment. Generally, the plan will include these as supplemental benefits or extra membership perks. You might compare this to the way that many Medicare Advantage plans provide dental and vision coverage that isn’t included in Original Medicare.

The NIH document cited above does mention that some physicians consider acupuncture safe when practiced by properly trained acupuncture therapists. So, The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), even regulates acupuncture benefits that some Medicare Advantage plans provide.

CMS says that any Medicare Advantage plan offering acupuncture coverage as a supplemental benefit must be provided by certified practitioners in a way that is within the scope of practice defined by their certifying state. . Various states may have their own licensing or certification for acupuncture practitioners. Medicare Advantage plans that cover acupuncture have to offer this benefit only from practitioners who have satisfied their state’s requirements to practice.

How to find a licensed acupuncturist

If your Medicare Advantage plan will help you pay for licensed acupuncture therapists, they may allow you to choose between accredited practitioners in your area. The insurance company might not have a published network as they do for typical doctors and other healthcare providers. That means that you will have to find an acceptable acupuncture therapist on your own.

You can look for the regulatory agency in your state to search for qualified acupuncturists. NCCAOM, or the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, serves as a national governing organization for acupuncture and some other kinds of alternative therapies. This entity also supplies the certification test used in DC and 46 states. In many cases, you could use the link at the top of the website to begin your search for a nearby practitioner.

These tips can help you look for an acupuncture therapist your Medicare Advantage insurance plan may cover:

  • You can learn more about licensing requirements and regulatory bodies for acupuncture therapists on this map from the NCCAOM website.
  • Note that three states, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Alabama, had no licensing requirements, but your insurer still could require certification to comply with CMS rules.
  • Even though the states may not have legal requirements, it’s likely that some practitioners will still seek accreditation to comply with insurance company rules and establish their own credibility.

Note that registration in the site’s directory is voluntary, so the website might not list all duly licensed acupuncturists in your town or city. In any case, you should find the license number of the practitioner and ensure and check with your insurance company to make certain they will provide you with benefits and to protect yourself.

Does Medicare cover acupuncture for you?

So, does Medicare cover acupuncture for you? Original Medicare doesn’t cover acupuncture. You may join a Medicare Advantage plan that provides you with some supplemental benefits for acupuncture and other kinds of alternative therapies. To get these benefits and make sure you work with a reliable practitioner, you should research credentials.

Would you like to find a Medicare plan that will help you pay for acupuncture? Enter your Zip Code and begin your search.

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