Does Medicare Cover Chiropractic Care?

27 minute read| Updated for August, 2020
Key Takeaways:
  • Medicare Part B covers some chiropractic services, if they are deemed as being medically necessary
  • More chiropractic services may be covered by Medicare Advantage
  • Chiropractic services related to your treatment, like X-Rays, are not covered
  • Other treatment options for your condition, aside from chiropractic care, may be covered by Original Medicare

The simple answer here is no. Medicare Part A only covers hospital care, which automatically rules out most chiropractic care.

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However, there are a few conditions that may be treated by a chiropractor in a hospital setting that are also eligible for coverage under Part B. Specifically, certain types of dislocations may be treated by a doctor in a hospital in one situation, but by a chiropractor in another, depending on the overall needs of the patient.

Medicare Part B won’t cover chiropractic services the same way it covers an ordinary doctor’s visit.

Medicare Part B: Limited Chiropractic Service Coverage

Medicare covers only a very limited selection of chiropractic services, of which are covered by Part B. As Part B is the part of Medicare that covers outpatient medical services, it makes sense that this coverage would apply to chiropractors. However, chiropractic services don’t qualify as medical care in the ordinary sense, so Part B won’t cover chiropractic services the same way it covers an ordinary doctor’s visit.

How Does Part B Chiropractic Coverage Work?

If you get a chiropractic procedure covered under Part B, there are a few important things to know about how your coverage will apply. These include the knowledge that:

  • Chiropractic X-rays are not covered
  • Massage therapy is not covered
  • Acupuncture and other services offered by chiropractors are not covered
  • You will pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount
  • The Part B deductible will apply

What Chiropractic Care Does Part B Cover?

Medicare Part B will only cover your chiropractic care in very limited cases. Chiropractors offer a wide variety of services, many of which will not be covered at all.

Specifically, Part B will cover your chiropractic care if:

  • It consists of manual manipulation of the spine
  • It corrects a subluxation (partial dislocation)
  • It is deemed as being medically necessary

If your chiropractor orders an X-ray or additional therapy to help your condition, this will not be covered by Original Medicare. There may be other ways to get this type of care covered, which you can find out about in more detail below. Additionally, there may be other types of medical providers who can treat you in other ways for the same condition.

Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover Chiropractic Visits?

Medicare Advantage, also called Medicare Part C, is an alternative option for receiving your Original Medicare benefits through a private insurance company. Many of these companies offer additional perks and coverage that goes beyond what Original Medicare covers. For some plans, this may include more chiropractic coverage than Original Medicare. Some plans may also cover other services that chiropractors sometimes offer, like acupuncture.

It’s important to remember that Medicare Advantage plans vary widely throughout the country, both in coverage and price. For example, United Healthcare Medicare Advantage plans cover chiropractic services along with acupuncture and podiatry, but exact coverage parameters still vary by state.

If chiropractic care is important to you and you think that Medicare Advantage may be a good fit for you overall, then conducting a more exhaustive search to see which plans are offered would be beneficial. As there are a huge number of Medicare Advantage plans currently available, many of which can be somewhat complex, it is important that you research each thoroughly and make sure that the plan is right for you in every aspect, not just with respect to chiropractic care.

Chiropractic Care and Medicare Supplement Plans

Medicare Supplement plans are insurance plans offered by private insurance companies that cover fees that Original Medicare does not. Like Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement plans can vary widely according to price. However, unlike Medicare Advantage, the coverage that Medicare Supplement plans offer doesn’t vary at all.

For example, Supplement Plan A may cost more in New York than in Kansas, but the coverage offered will be exactly the same. This is because it is regulated at the federal level.

For now, Medicare Supplement plans do not cover any chiropractic services. However, many Medicare Supplement plans do cover your Part B deductible and the 20% of the Medicare-approved amount that you have to pay out of pocket for chiropractic care.

As many people who seek chiropractic care are suffering from chronic pain issues, chiropractors may partner with local physicians to handle pain management care together.

Can Medicare Part D Help With Your Chiropractic Care?

Medicare Part D, like Part C and Supplement plans, is offered by private insurance companies. This part of Medicare is specifically tailored to cover prescription drug costs.

As many people who seek chiropractic care are suffering from chronic pain issues, chiropractors may partner with local physicians to handle pain management care together.

So, while chiropractors may not be able to prescribe you directly with prescriptions, having your pain management physician be in touch with your chiropractor can make things a lot easier on your end. Part D will most likely cover prescription drugs that are prescribed by your physician to treat your condition.

Taking the Next Steps with Chiropractic Care

Although chiropractic care has proven useful for many, it unfortunately isn’t usually covered by Medicare. However, if you are receiving chiropractic care, there are options available to you, depending on how much care you intend to receive, and how much coverage you’re looking for.

Whatever your needs are, staying informed and understanding your options are the most important things you can do if you are interested in chiropractic care.