In short, yes. However, there are some details you need to know before scheduling a visit to the chiropractor.
How Often Are Chiropractic Services Covered?
Chiropractic services are covered by Medicare when they're deemed medically necessary. Medicare Part B covers up to 80% of costs, with no maximum on the number of visits.
For Medicare, “medically necessary” generally means anything needed to treat, prevent, or diagnose any illness, disease, injury, or condition. In other words, if you are experiencing something that is debilitating or a problem for your life, it's likely to be covered.
Note that Medicare may not cover all of the services a given chiropractic center provides. Anything ‘extra' – such as product purchases not directly related to medical treatment – is unlikely to be covered. If you're not sure whether or not a given item is likely to be covered, contact your Medicare provider or ask your chiropractor for more information.
Remember, chiropractors need to be licensed by Medicare to bill them – not all Chiropractors accept Medicare.
Note: Medicare Advantage (MA) insurance plans might or might not cover chiropractic treatments. Most of these do, but payments can vary from standard Medicare rates. If you're on a Medicare Advantage plan, talk to your provider for more information.
List of Chiropractic Services
Services can vary based on your provider, so the following should not be treated as a comprehensive list. However, some treatments are common to most practices, including:
- Chiropractic Adjustments: Adjustments focus on getting your bones (especially the vertebrae) back into position.
- Kinesiology: Kinesiology allows a chiropractor to understand what's causing aches, injuries, or slowed healing. A session may involve testing your reflexes, checking your muscle resistance, and looking for reactions to potential allergens. This is an important part of treatment since it's difficult to create an effective care plan without knowing what the problem is.
- Nutrition: Some chiropractic centers provide nutritional guidance. Others may directly sell health supplements to help patients in certain situations.
- Exercise Plans: Similarly, you may be given an exercise plan to follow. As this is part of medical treatment, it's important that you follow the schedule provided. Failure to do so could slow the rate at which a problem is resolved, drive up your costs, and reduce your overall standard of living.
- Massage: Massages may or may not be part of your chiropractic care. Many treatments include at least a small amount of massaging to loosen the body and make adjustments safer, but longer massages are available on a more location-by-location basis.
Many other services are available at some locations.
If you've received a referral to a chiropractor from your doctor, you may have been given instructions to look for specific treatments and services. Make sure the chiropractor you contact provides all of the services your doctor recommended. If no chiropractor in a reasonable distance offers those services, ask if any would be willing to offer them or talk to your doctor about an alternative care plan.
What Makes Chiropractic Care Unique
Chiropractic care works by physically adjusting your body and teaching ways to keep it in good condition. Chiropractic care isn't as fast as surgery (not counting any recovery times you may need), but it also has fewer risks of side effects than surgery and medication. This makes it one of the safest and most affordable treatment methods for certain conditions.
Other Medicare Covered Services
Medicare covers a wide variety of potential services. Options like heat therapy, electrical stimulation, and therapeutic ultrasound may be covered at a chiropractor's office.
One common service that isn't covered is acupuncture. Even if the treatment is recommended by a doctor, Medicare may not cover any of the cost of acupuncture treatments.
For more information about what is and isn't covered by Medicare, visit Medicare.gov.