Medicare

Does Medicare Cover Chiropractic Treatments?

Does Medicare Cover Chiropractic Treatments?

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Chiropractic care is covered by Medicare Part B, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans. Your out-of-pocket costs will vary by Medicare plan.

In most cases, chiropractic adjustments will only be covered if they are medically necessary, rather than a routine back adjustment. For access to routine chiropractic care, choose a Medicare Advantage plan that has robust benefits such as the plan from AARP/UnitedHealthcare.

Which parts of Medicare cover chiropractic care?

Chiropractic coverage varies by the type of Medicare plan. However, all Medicare enrollees will have access to medically necessary chiropractic care.

Medicare type
Chiropractic coverage
Part A (hospital insurance)
No
Part B (medical insurance)
Yes, if medically necessary to correct a subluxation.
Part C (Medicare Advantage)
Yes, but plan details vary widely.
Part D (prescription drugs)
No
Medicare Supplement (Medigap)
Yes, reduces how much you pay for the covered chiropractic services in Medicare Part B.

Medicare Part B chiropractic guidelines and exclusions for 2022

Medicare Part B will only pay for chiropractic care if the treatment is medically necessary. The most important thing to know is that you need to go to your doctor before the chiropractor. If the physician determines that you have a spinal subluxation (misaligned vertebrae), you will be able to use your Medicare Part B plan to help pay for a chiropractic adjustment.

Requirements for chiropractic coverage through Medicare Part B

  • Must be medically necessary (documented either through a doctor's exam or X-ray).
  • Will only cover spinal manipulation for subluxation (an altered position of the vertebrae).
  • Must address a specific problem (no preventive care or maintenance adjustments).
  • Can get an unlimited number of treatments as long as they're medically necessary.

Chiropractic coverage exclusions

  • No coverage for other chiropractic services such as massage therapy, ultrasound treatments or traction therapy.
  • No coverage for other procedures ordered by a chiropractor such as X-rays or diagnostic tests. These tests can be used by a chiropractor to demonstrate medical necessity, but the tests will only be covered if they're ordered by a doctor.

Part B does not have a limit on the number of chiropractic adjustments it will cover. However, for subsequent treatments, the severity of the medical issue may determine what's needed to qualify as medically necessary. In most cases, you will need to show the treatment is "reasonable and necessary" through a spinal exam, assessment of improvement and evaluation of treatment effectiveness.

If you have chronic low back pain, Medicare Part B will cover up to 12 acupuncture treatments in three months and a maximum of 20 acupuncture treatments per year.

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How much will you pay for chiropractic care with Medicare Part B?

After you meet your Medicare Part B deductible, you'll pay 20% of the approved cost of chiropractic care. Medicare will pay the other 80% of the cost. You must go to a chiropractor that accepts Medicare for your bill to be covered, otherwise you risk paying the whole amount for the service.

The cost of your chiropractic bill is based on the number of spinal regions that need manipulation.

Chiropractic adjustment
Total procedure cost in 2021
Your portion of the bill (20%)
1 to 2 regions of the spine$28$6
3 to 4 regions of the spine$40$8
5 regions of the spine$52$10

Average Medicare-approved amount

Remember to always seek out medical advice from a health care professional about what type of treatment is best for your needs.

Does Medicare Advantage cover chiropractic care?

Yes, Medicare Advantage plans will cover medically necessary chiropractic care.

Some plans may also provide chiropractic benefits beyond what Medicare Part B offers, including routine chiropractic appointments. This means you can get a maintenance treatment without needing the medically necessary documentation of having altered vertebrae positioning.

Medicare Advantage plans are more like traditional insurance because you'll sign up for a single plan that provides unified medical coverage. Benefits vary widely, and you should check your policy about which chiropractic services your plan will cover.

Providers usually have trends about how they classify chiropractic treatments, and the table below shows the average costs and requirements for some major Medicare Advantage providers. Note that preauthorization may be required.

Medicare Advantage provider
Medically necessary chiropractic adjustments (average)
Routine chiropractic care
AARP/UnitedHealthcare$20 in-network copaySometimes covered
Aetna$5 copayUsually not covered
Anthem$20 copayNot covered
Cigna$10 copayNot covered
Humana$20 copayUsually not covered

Does Medicare Supplement cover chiropractic care?

Yes, Medicare Supplement (Medigap) covers chiropractic services, and these plans lower your out-of-pocket expenses compared to having only a Medicare Part B plan. In many cases, if you have a Medicare Supplement plan, you'll get free chiropractic adjustments when it's medically necessary.

With Medigap, all of the Medicare Part B chiropractic restrictions and exclusions apply. That means Medicare coverage is limited to manual manipulation of the spine that is medically necessary. You'll also need to visit your doctor before the chiropractor.

All Medicare Supplement plans will reduce your Medicare Part B deductible, with the reduction amount ranging from 50% to 100%. In the table below, you can see your copayment cost for chiropractic care after you've met your deductible.

Medigap plan
Your cost for medically necessary chiropractic adjustments
Plan A$0
Plan B$0
Plan C$0
Plan D$0
Plan F$0
Plan G$0
Plan G (our recommendation for the best overall)$0
Plan K50% of costs (about $3 to $5 per treatment)
Plan L25% of costs (about $2 to $3 per treatment)
Plan M$0
Plan N$0-$20

Frequently asked questions

How many chiropractic visits will Medicare allow?

There is no limit on the number of chiropractic adjustments that Medicare will cover, but each appointment must be medically necessary to treat an altered vertebrae position.

When did Medicare start covering chiropractic care?

In 1972, President Nixon signed Public Law 92–603, adding chiropractic treatments as a covered service in Original Medicare. This change was made following a seven-year lobbying campaign after the creation of Medicare in 1965 specifically excluded chiropractic services. In recent years, there has been renewed interest in expanding chiropractic and acupuncture coverage as a way to help enrollees manage pain without opioids.

Are chiropractors covered by health insurance?

Most individual and family health insurance plans cover chiropractic care. This includes both insurance purchased through an employer and plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace. Coverage details vary, so check your policy to see if your insurance will pay for spine adjustments.

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