Does Medicare Cover Holistic Medicine?

In this article...
  • Learn if your Medicare plan will cover holistic and alternative treatments, and discover wellness coverage you can access with some Medicare Advantage plans.

The alternative medicine industry is growing. In 2020, according to Statista, Americans spent more than $17.9 billion on holistic medicine and other alternative therapies, an 18.8% increase over 2016. With so many people accessing alternative health services, it's important to understand if Medicare covers holistic medicine.

Does Medicare Cover Holistic Medicine?

Medicare Part A and Part B don't normally cover most holistic medicine or other alternative therapies. However, some Medicare Advantage Plans may provide extended benefits to cover a variety of health and wellness services that are considered holistic or alternative therapies. 

Types of Holistic Medicine That May Be Covered

In some cases, Medicare Part B may provide coverage for limited treatment services that are considered holistic. 

Osteopathic and Chiropractic Services

In some cases, Medicare Part B may cover osteopathy that's provided by a physician who's a licensed doctor of osteopathic medicine. Additionally, chiropractic care is sometimes covered by Medicare Part B if it's determined by your physician that it's medically necessary.

Nutritional Care

Those who require access to nutritional services as a result of diabetes or kidney disease can usually obtain coverage for nutritional care under Medicare Part B. 

Does Medicare Cover Cupping? 

When cupping is performed by a licensed massage therapist or acupuncturist who is within a Medicare Advantage network, your plan may provide some coverage. However, alternative treatments such as cupping aren't typically covered by original Medicare.

Does Medicare Cover Functional Medicine or Homeopathic Treatment?

Functional medicine, a type of alternative care that's based on your body's biochemistry and your lifestyle, may be performed by a physician with holistic training, or it may be performed by a naturopathic doctor on another alternative care practitioner. While it depends on the policy you purchase, some Medicare Advantage plans may cover functional medicine and other types of naturopathic or homeopathic treatments when administered by an in-network provider. However, this coverage can vary from plan to plan so it's important to check your policy.

Accessing Better Benefits With Medicare Advantage Plans 

While Medicare Part A and Part B don't provide much coverage for holistic medicine, it is possible to access Medicare Advantage Plans that cover a range of alternative therapies. These plans provide all the benefits that are offered by original Medicare and usually include additional benefits. They're administered by private insurance providers and as such, premiums, deductibles, copayments, coinsurance and benefits, can vary dramatically. 

Depending on your Medicare Advantage Plan, you might receive coverage for alternative services such as acupuncture, massage or even healthy eating options. 

How to Enroll in Medicare Advantage

Carriers, plans and availability of Medicare Advantage plans vary depending on where you live. You'll need to be an active beneficiary of Medicare Part A and/or Part B to obtain a plan, and in most cases, you'll need to wait for an open enrollment period to apply for coverage. You can visit Medicare online to explore Medicare Advantage plans that are available where you live.

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