Does Medicare Cover Acupuncture for Quality of Care?

Medicare covers acupuncture for chronic low back pain. You can receive up to 12 acupuncture sessions within 90 days and an additional eight sessions if you show improvement within the first 12 sessions. However, Medicare will not cover more than 20 acupuncture sessions within a year. Learn more about how Medicare covers acupuncture to learn how best to relieve your pain.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about home, life, and car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and C...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Nov 30, 2021

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The Rundown

  • Medicare Part B will cover 12 acupuncture sessions plus an additional eight sessions if you show improvement after the first 12
  • Acupuncture from Medicare can only be used to treat chronic low back pain
  • Medicare will not cover more than 20 acupuncture sessions within one year
  • Some other services that Medicare will cover include chiropractic services and physical therapy

If you’re wondering, “Does Medicare cover acupuncture?” or, “Is acupuncture covered by insurance?” keep reading. We’ll discuss Medicare’s acupuncture coverage in detail and how you might get your sessions covered.

We also discuss what acupuncture is and other Medicare-covered services that may help you relieve pain. By the end of this article, you should have answers to your basic questions, such as, “Does insurance cover acupuncture?”

Enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool above to find a health insurance company near you.

Does Medicare cover acupuncture?

Is acupuncture covered by Medicare? Medicare Part B will cover acupuncture for chronic low back pain. Chronic low back pain does not have a known cause and lasts for at least 12 weeks.

Medicare limits the number of acupuncture visits that you can receive. To begin with, Medicare Part B will cover up to 12 acupuncture appointments within 90 days.

If your doctor notes improvement from the Medicare acupuncture sessions, then Medicare will cover an additional eight appointments. However, Medicare will not cover more than 20 acupuncture sessions in one year.

Does Medicare pay for acupuncture? As of 2021, Original Medicare will cover up to 80% of the Medicare-approved cost of acupuncture. This means that you will be responsible for paying 20% of the cost out of pocket as well as your deductible.

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What is acupuncture, and what are the benefits?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical practice in which small needles are inserted into specific parts of the body to increase energy flow and provide pain relief. It works by triggering the body to release natural chemicals that relieve pain.

In one study, about 90% of participants reported pain relief after being treated with acupuncture for headaches or pain in the lower back, neck, shoulders, or knees.

In addition to pain, acupuncture can also help to relieve symptoms caused by other injuries and illnesses, such as cancer, allergies, depression and anxiety, gastrointestinal issues, and more.

Studies on the medical benefits of acupuncture are limited, but promising. Acupuncture can be used for general wellbeing, headaches, stress relief, etc. It has also been prescribed by some practitioners for neuropathy and to boost white blood cell counts.

What other services are covered?

If you are experiencing back pain and are looking for ways to help treat it, acupuncture covered by Medicare is not your only option.

If your back pain is caused by subluxation (a misalignment of the bones in the spine that is causing pressure on the nerves), you may qualify for chiropractic coverage. Medicare will cover chiropractic care up to a certain amount for subluxation.

Medicare also provides coverage for outpatient physical therapy, which could help stretch and strengthen the back.

With that being said, there are some services that Medicare does not cover, such as massage therapy, homeopathy, cold laser therapy, and chiropractic sessions that do not involve the spine.

If you’re looking for acupuncture insurance coverage, enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool below to find affordable health insurance rates from a company near you.

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