Does Medicare Cover TENS Units?

In this article...
  • Does Medicare cover TENS units? Find out if you can receive coverage and what else you need to know about e-stim therapy as part of your ongoing treatment.

While Medicare does cover TENS units, it is usually on a case-by-case basis. Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans can cover TENS units when they're medically necessary.

Before receiving approval for a TENS device, you may need to attempt other treatment options. If it's established that previous attempts to treat your condition via other means have failed, you and your doctor may be able to receive approval for a TENS unit. 

What Is a TENS Unit? 

TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator. A TENS device may be used to treat chronic pain for a wide range of medical conditions or physical therapy. The device is used to target muscles in the body, such as those that are healing or are experiencing chronic pain. A pulse is sent to the nerves to cause the muscles to contract and release. 

How Much Does a Good TENS Unit Cost? 

The cost of a TENS unit may vary depending on the model, its capabilities and any additional functions. The cheaper units may run around $100, but more expensive models can be over $500. It is important to speak with your doctor about what type of unit you actually need so you can purchase one that will treat your injury or medical condition as intended.  

Can a Doctor Prescribe a TENS Unit? 

Yes, a doctor can and might prescribe a TENS unit for you if there is considerable evidence that it's needed. Because your Medicare or Medicare Advantage plan may only cover certain devices, it's important that you review your coverage with your physician before receiving the prescription. Your doctor will be able to prescribe a device for you and assist you in meeting all of the demands required for coverage. 

Does Medicare Cover TENS Units for Back Pain? 

Most of the evidence and research about TENS units has been anecdotal in regards to how effective a TENS unit is in the treatment of back pain. For this reason, Medicare may deny coverage on the grounds that your doctor is not exploring other avenues for your treatment. While it's not impossible to gain approval for a TENS unit, it's considered a last option. 

Does Medicare Cover TENS Units for E-Stim Therapy? 

There are many conditions that may require e-stim therapy, which requires the use of a TENS unit. If your doctor is using a broader approach that incorporates the use of your device as part of a larger treatment plan, you're more likely to be approved for coverage. Medicare Advantage plans vary and may have different requirements for coverage but are generally more accepting of TENS unit therapy. 

What TENS Units Are Covered by Medicare? 

If you have received approval from Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) or from a Medicare Advantage plan for the use of a TENS unit, it will be covered under your medical devices coverage. You will need to work with your doctor to find a specific device that your plan covers. Because Medicare Advantage is provided through private insurers, the devices available to you may vary based on what your insurance provider covers.  

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