Does Medicare Pay for Hypnotherapy?
- Hypnotherapy isn’t typically covered by Medicare, though it could potentially be covered in some circumstances if your doctor is able to bill Medicare for the services. Find out how hypnotherapy works and if it may be covered by Medicare.
Hypnotherapy can be used to treat a variety of personality and behavioral disorders such as anxiety, phobias, tobacco and substance abuse, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders and more.
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Does Medicare Cover Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy being covered by Medicare is a bit of a gray area. You'll be more likely to get your hypnotherapy covered by Medicare if you have a diagnosis that's covered by Medicare. If you have chronic pain that's covered in your Medicare plan, and your doctor refers you to hypnotherapy for pain management, you might be able to get this covered with Medicare.
Medicare.gov does not explicitly state hypnotherapy is covered by Medicare, but there is a Medicare Ambulatory Payment Classification (APC) for hypnotherapy (code 05822). In other words, a billing code exists for hypnotherapy, and that billing code was updated as recently as 2018, suggesting that Medicare coverage for hypnotherapy may be possible.
If you are considering undergoing hypnotherapy treatment, ask your doctor if they will be able to bill Medicare for the procedure. You may also call the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Serivces (CMS) at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
If Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn't cover hypnotherapy, some Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans may offer hypnotherapy benefits. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies and cover the same benefits as Medicare Part A and Part B, and most Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits Original Medicare doesn't cover. Depending on the plans available where you live, you may be able to find a Medicare Advantage plan that covers hypnotherapy.
It’s possible you must first obtain prior authorization for hypnotherapy. Prior authorization is when a health care provider first obtains approval from Medicare before administering a given service or item. This allows both the patient and provider to know if the care will be covered before deciding to go through with it.
Hypnotherapy is considered to be alternative medicine, which is why it may not be covered by Medicare in all circumstances. Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) generally does not cover alternative medicine. Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) have a little more flexibility, and some Medicare Advantage plans may cover alternative therapies such as acupuncture. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you should contact your plan carrier directly to find out if your plan covers hypnotherapy.
What Is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a form of psychotherapy performed by a trained hypnotherapist or psychologist. During hypnotherapy, the patient is placed into a trance-like state through relaxation, extreme concentration and intense attention.
This form of therapy taps into the mind to address the psychological root of whatever is being treated, whether the issue is substance abuse, unhealthy eating or other destructive behaviors. Sometimes these behaviors are rooted in traumatic or repressed memories and experiences that remain “hidden” from the conscious mind.
What Does Hypnotherapy Treat?
Some of the conditions that can be treated by hypnotherapy include:
- Smoking cessation
- Weight loss
- Sleep disorders
- Nail biting or teeth grinding
Hypnotherapy can also be used to manage chronic pain, digestive disorders, skin conditions and side effects from pregnancy and chemotherapy. Hypnotherapy may also be used to alleviate pain during childbirth, dental procedures, headaches, burns and other events.
Types of Hypnotherapy
There are two common methods used in hypnotherapy: suggestion therapy and analysis.
- Suggestion therapy involves placing the patient into an altered state and then providing guidance and suggestions to control unwanted behaviors. This method of hypnotherapy is most effective for the treatment of things like gambling, smoking, excessive eating and other unhealthy behaviors.
- Analysis hypnotherapy, or “regression therapy,” digs deeper into the subconscious mind to retrieve memories and past traumas that have been repressed and may be the cause of psychological distress, mental health conditions or destructive behavior.
Who Shouldn’t Seek Hypnotherapy?
Those who experience psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions may not be a good fit for hypnotherapy. It should also not be performed on anyone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What Are the Drawbacks of Hypnotherapy?
The biggest drawback of hypnotherapy is the risk of creating false memories as a result of unintended suggestions or leading questions. Some people experience adverse reactions such as headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, anxiety and distress. Overall, hypnotherapy is considered a safe practice.
What Therapies Does Medicare Cover?
- Cardiovascular behavioral therapy
- Nutrition therapy
- Obesity behavioral therapy
- Mental health care
- Opioid use disorder treatment
Here are some resources for further information about hypnotherapy.