As we age, we tend to experience more stress, anxiety and tension. These can be due to factors like health concerns, caregiving responsibilities, or life transitions. That is why the chances of you needing therapeutic help to relax and relieve muscle and joint tensions rise as you age.
But have you ever wondered if those massage therapy sessions you've been wanting to book are covered by Medicare, the Federal Government-funded program to help older Americans obtain health insurance? The good news is that the answer is yes, and in this guide, we will walk you through all the details about Medicare coverage for massage therapy and other complementary treatments. So the next time when you need help to help relieve back pain or muscle stiffness, you'll know what your options are.
Which Parts of Medicare Cover Massage Therapy?
What exactly is massage therapy? It is the manipulation of soft tissues of the body, including your muscles, your connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and your joints. The goal is to relieve pain, reduce overall stress, and promote relaxation and wellness.
If you have Medicare, massage therapy is covered by a part of the program called Medicare Part B, and that includes all medically necessary outpatient physical therapy to help improve mobility and function. As such, massage therapy may be covered as part of your physical therapy treatment plan if it is deemed medically necessary by your doctor or physical therapist. Another condition is that the therapy must be provided by a licensed and Medicare-certified massage therapist in their office or at a hospital outpatient department.
For those with just Medicare Part A, massage therapy is considered an “alternative treatment” and not covered. However, as complementary and integrative health become more mainstream, this may change in the coming years.
Do Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) Cover Massage Therapy?
Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Medicare Part C, are private health plans that contract with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A and Part B benefits. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer extra coverage for things like vision, dental, and wellness programs, meaning that they may help pay for massage therapy, especially if it’s considered medically necessary or prescribed by your doctor as part of a physical therapy or chronic pain treatment plan.
The coverage for massage therapy under Medicare Advantage plans can differ between insurance companies and plans. Like Medicare Part B, some plans may cover massage therapy if it’s deemed medically necessary by your doctor for treatment of an injury or chronic condition like arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc. Coverage may also be limited to a certain number of visits per year.
Other Medicare Advantage plans may offer massage therapy as an added benefit for an additional premium. Some plans also provide discounts for massage therapy at participating providers and clinics. Note that out-of-pocket costs may apply for any visits over your plan’s limit.
A few Medicare Advantage plans offer complete coverage for alternative treatments like massage therapy as part of a wellness program. They may also offer a set allowance each year for things like gym memberships, acupuncture, and a few more services. These wellness programs are aimed at preventive care and encouraging an active and healthy lifestyle.
What Are Some Medicare Advantage Plans That May Provide Massage Therapy Coverage?
If you want coverage for massage therapy with Medicare, you’ll need to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers that.
Here are some Medicare Advantage plans that frequently provide coverage for massage therapy:
- Humana Medicare Advantage
- AARP Medicare Advantage
- Kaiser Permanente Medicare Advantage
How Much Does Massage Therapy Cost Without Insurance?
If your Medicare does not cover massage therapy, there are other options that can make these sessions more affordable. Many massage therapists offer discounted rates for self-pay clients.
Many massage clinics offer package deals, such as a series of 6 or 12 massages at a lower per-session rate. This can save you 10-30% off the regular price. If massage therapy is part of your wellness routine, a package deal is a great way to save money.
Student massage therapists
Massage schools often offer very low-cost sessions with student massage therapists. The students are supervised by licensed massage therapists to ensure quality and safety. While the massage may take a bit longer, you’ll only pay a fraction of the cost.
There are also some hospitals, recreation centers and nonprofits that offer affordable massage therapy depending on your income. They aim to make complementary health services available to people of all financial means and budgets. You can call around to places in your area to check if they offer massage therapy at a reduced rate.
Ask about a discount
If cost is a concern, let the massage therapist know you’re paying out-of-pocket. Ask if they offer a discount, or are open to negotiating the rate, especially if you’re interested in regular massage therapy. Many massage therapists would rather work at a slightly lower rate than lose a loyal client, so it never hurts to inquire about potential savings or deals.
With some research and creativity, you can find affordable massage therapy options to suit your needs and budget. Don’t let the lack of insurance coverage prevent you from enjoying the physical and mental benefits of massage.
Does Medicare Cover Massage Therapy Chairs or Massage Cushions?
Traditional Medicare plans (Parts A and B) do not cover massage therapy or massage chairs. However, some Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) and private insurance companies do offer coverage for massage therapy and massage chairs as part of their plans.
Medicare Advantage Plans
Many Medicare Advantage plans, like HMOs and PPOs, offer coverage for massage therapy and massage chairs as part of their additional benefits. The details of the coverage can vary between plans and locations. Some may cover a certain number of massage therapy visits per year or a portion of the cost of a massage chair. It’s best to check with plans in your area to see what kind of coverage for massage chairs they may provide.
Some private insurance companies offer coverage for massage chairs and cushions, especially if it's deemed medically necessary by your doctor as part of physical therapy or chronic pain management plan. A few insurance companies also provide discounts or reimbursements for massage chairs. The amount and the details will depend on your specific insurance plan. It's a good idea to contact your insurance company directly to inquire about their coverage of massage therapy services and massage chairs before purchasing anything out of pocket.
While traditional Medicare does not consider massage therapy or massage chairs to be medically necessary in most cases, some Medicare Advantage and private insurance plans do recognize their health benefits and provide coverage. If affordable massage therapy or a massage chair could help improve your mobility, flexibility, and pain levels, it may be worth looking into the plans in your area to find coverage that meets your needs. Every bit of extra self-care and comfort helps as we age, so take advantage of any resources available to you.
How To Find a Medicare Plan With Massage Therapy Coverage
The older we get, the more beneficial services like massage therapy can be. If your current Medicare plan doesn't cover it and it's something you're interested in, it's not too late to switch! All Medicare plans aren't created equal, but don't worry --- we're here to help you find your dream healthcare plan.
EASY Insurance is a team of experienced agents that are dedicated to helping you find the health plans that best suit your needs. Whether you need a plan offered by the government or a private insurance company, we are always happy to take the time to discuss.
We're here for you and can't wait to help you live an EASY and happy life!