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Are Chiropractic Services Covered by Medicare?

If you’ve ever had back pain or neck pain, there’s a chance someone you know suggested trying out their chiropractor. This suggestion usually conjures up images of being twisted up like a pretzel to the sound of your back loudly cracking. Many chiropractors are highly trained and can be effective at treating back pain in certain circumstances. Many also offer additional services that may help you to manage pain, among other benefits. The problem that many potential clients face is payment and coverage from their insurance. Can you receive assistance from Medicare for chiropractic services?

How Can Chiropractors Help?

Defining the different ways that chiropractors can help clients will be important to determining whether those services are covered by Medicare. First and foremost, chiropractic services can help relieve pain from muscle or skeletal issues, acting as a non-medication, non-surgical option. While pain relief is the benefit most supported by scientific study, chiropractics is also believed to help with function and mobility. Others claim that it can do anything from boost your immune system to improve your quality of life, though the research on these is spotty.

Some chiropractors can offer services ranging from dietary counseling to massage therapy.

Many chiropractors offer services beyond back realignment and adjustment. In a sense, chiropractors cover services that would fall under the alternative or holistic medicine umbrella, focusing on helping the entire body through alternative means. Some chiropractors can offer services ranging from dietary counseling to massage therapy. Many also offer acupuncture, which can be effective at relieving pain. This can make chiropractors an excellent resource if you’re interested in alternative or holistic medicine.

Does Original Medicare Cover Chiropractors?

Now we get into the nitty-gritty of how you’ll pay for these services, the question we posed at the beginning of this article. In a very specific case, Medicare does cover chiropractic services under Medicare Part B. The circumstances that allow for coverage are pretty straightforward. Medicare will cover 80 percent of manual manipulation of the spine in medically necessary cases. Manual manipulation is when the chiropractor contorts or moves your back with their hands (the image of being twisted like a pretzel we mentioned earlier). These services must be to correct a subluxation, when a bone or several bones in your spine are out of place. The services must have a direct therapeutic benefit to the condition with a reasonable expectation of recovery.

Many of the other services provided are what’s considered alternative care and aren’t covered by Medicare.

Unfortunately, the other services rendered by a chiropractor aren’t covered by Medicare. Many of these are what’s considered alternative care, which we’ve covered before. Even acupuncture, which can be covered by Medicare, often isn’t covered when it’s administered by a chiropractor, unless they fit very specific qualifications. Instead, acupuncture must be given by a doctor or medical professional with a master’s or doctorate-level degree in acupuncture or Oriental Medicine from a properly accredited school and has a full, active, and unrestricted license for acupuncture in that state. Only then will Medicare cover acupuncture.

Is There Any Additional Coverage?

Original Medicare isn’t the only way that you can get Medicare coverage for chiropractic services. If you have a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, you may receive additional coverage. This would go alongside what you’d normally get from Original Medicare, too. Specifically what extra services are covered varies depending on each individual plan. A plan may not give any additional coverage, though all are required to offer at least what Original Medicare covers. For this reason, if these types of services are something you’re interested in, we suggest you look closely at your current Medicare Advantage plan or any prospective plan or get the help of a licensed sales agent who specializes in Medicare.

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Back pain can be debilitating, nearly crippling when it’s bad enough. If you’re in a situation where pain medication or surgery isn’t an option for you, working with a chiropractor can be a lifesaver. If this situation and need arises, it’s good to know that you won’t be stuck with the entire bill, and instead, will have the help of your Medicare coverage.