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Does Medicare Cover Acupuncture or Chiropractic?

Learn if Original Medicare covers two popular alternative health treatments.

by Amy De Vore+ on Mar 31, 2020 | 40 Comments

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Acupuncture and Chiropractic are alternative ways to help with pain management, and have some added benefits, like some people finding that acupuncture helps them quit smoking. Out of pocket costs for chiropractic and acupuncture can add up, so many people are left wondering if Original Medicare covers acupuncture and chiropractic.

Does Medicare Cover Acupuncture?

Medicare does cover acupuncture. Historically, Medicare offered coverage for physical, occupational, and speech therapy. However, in 2020 acupuncture won a place in Medicare coverage. Part B (Medical Insurance) covers up to 12 acupuncture visits in 90 days for chronic low back pain. Medicare defines chronic back pain as follows:

  • Lasting 12 weeks or longer
  • Having no identifiable systemic cause (not associated with metastatic, inflammatory, or infectious disease)
  • Pain that’s not associated with surgery or pregnancy

An additional 8 sessions will be covered if the person shows improvement. If the doctor decides the chronic low back pain isn’t improving or is getting worse, then Medicare won’t cover the treatments. No more than 20 acupuncture treatments can be given yearly.

Does Medicare Cover Chiropractic Care?

Medicare does cover medically necessary chiropractic services. According to the CMS, Medicare Part B covers 80% of the cost for “manipulation of the spine if medically necessary to correct a subluxation.” There is no cap on the number of medically necessary visits to a chiropractor.

Under Original Medicare, without any additional insurance, you would have to pay your part B deductible and 20% coinsurance for all medically necessary chiropractic appointments.

Does Medigap cover Chiropractic and Acupuncture?

Medigap plans do not cover acupuncture, except for Medigap Innovative G in California. However, they do cover chiropractic care. Medigap Plan F and Plan C cover 100% of your Part B deductible and will also pay the 20% coinsurance. Combined with Medicare there will be no charge for any medically necessary chiropractic work.

Learn More about Medigap Get a Medigap QuoteApply for Medigap

Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover Chiropractic and Acupuncture?

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans may cover acupuncture or chiropractic care. Since MA are not standardized, each plan can offer a very different set of fees and benefits. Plans that cover acupuncture are very rare but worth searching for if that is a high priority. Chiropractic is usually available under MA but how much you will pay can vary by plan.

Learn More about MA Get an MA Quote

For help tracking down supplemental insurance or if you have additional questions about alternative treatment, please call a Senior65 independent agent at 800-930-7956.

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Reader Comments and Questions

By Miles on June 23, 2020

12 weeks or longer for medicare coverage?? thats insane! thank you for the info

By John on June 17, 2020

If you are dealing with constant pain due to an accident or something, such as fibromyalgia, you may be under a physician's care. In many cases, a chiropractor may also be a necessary part of your team of health professionals.

By Aldo on May 19, 2020

could you help me get an ma plan that covers acupuncture? im 67 from kansas

Definitely. Give us a call at 800-930-7956 to get you enrolled!
-Michelle from

By Miriam on May 19, 2020

how much for a this medigap innovative that covers acupuncture?

You can get an instant quote here!
-Michelle from

By Susan on September 20, 2019

Just an FYI: You are correct -- there is no cap on chiropractic visits. SOME contractors, however, have a "review screen," whereby, after a certain number of visits, the doctor must send in their notes to justify to care.

By Stella on August 15, 2019

Is there a limited number of spinal manipulations within a year?

As the article states, "There is no cap on the number of medically necessary visits to a chiropractor."

While this site can offer general explanations on how Original Medicare and supplemental Medicare insurance works, we cannot comment on specific coverage. We recommend you always check with Medicare directly when it comes to specific claims.

If you need a Medigap, Medicare Advantage or Part D plan, be sure to give us a call. We never charge for our services.
-Michelle from

By Janet on April 18, 2019

I have Medicare and Carefirst BcBs. My chiropractor tells me he can only do a certain number of adjustments (medically necessary I am guessing). Why can’t Carefirst pick up what Medicare will not? They do for acupuncture.

By Gerald on August 23, 2018

It is almost unbelievable that Medicare seems to have screwed the poor Nuropathy victims and left them out in the suffer. In the "modern" American medical world, there is no treatment, no help, nor any hope for these poor victims. On the other hand, the Chinese have been curing this terrible condition for many hundreds of years before the European white people knew that our continent even existed. Of course, the Chinese continue to cure Neuropathy over here every day for those who can pay for the acupuncture treatments. What a shame !!

By Elizabeth on July 26, 2018

Due to moderate/severe degenerative discs in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebra, plus extensive scar tissue from old injuries and surgeries, I have multiple subluxations every time I go to my chiropractor. Neuropathy symptoms have already been manifested in my left leg. To keep the pain level under control and the situation from deteriorating even more, I go at least twice a week. Chiropractic is the only thing that has kept me going. Now Medicare is denying the claims. I am challenging the denials. Do I have a chance?

By Paula on May 15, 2018

I have been going to the chiropractor on as an as needed basis for subluxation for awhile now. I have Medicare and a secondary insurance which is accepted by the chiropractor. However he does not want to bill Medicare and charges me for the visit. I’ve never had this problem before with any other chiropractor I’ve been to.

By integrative medicine on November 20, 2017

I actually love your featuring these details for people trying to know more about topics similar to this. Your blog was well-written and very well researched

By Thomas on October 25, 2017

Need the list of specific C plans (Insurance co.)that will pay for chiropractic.

All Medigap plans with the same letter cover the exact same benefits so the chiropractic coverage for all plan C offered in your area will be the same. Some quotes for C are not available online so give us a call and we can help you find the lowest priced plan in your county.
-Chris from

By Constance on August 22, 2017

If Medicare approves Chiropractic care for a beneficiary is there a 12 visit (for adjustments) limit per year?

There is no cap on the number of medically necessary visits to a chiropractor.
-Chris from

By jeanne davis on March 26, 2017

I am treating with a chiropractor who does not accept insurance,but sends his patients to the local hospital to have x-rays ordered by him.I was not referred,but it is subluxation. Will medicare pay for outpatient x-rays done at a hospital ?. visits are not claimed.

Medicare does cover X-rays; however, you will want to contact Medicare to see if a any procedure is covered before you have it done -especially if it's being ordered by a provider that does not accept assignment.
-Amy from

By FedUpWithInsanity on March 21, 2017

In short, like ALL insurance, it doesn't cover what people actually NEED, only what some panel decides you need. As a former ICU RN, I'm telling you the whole medical system, and especially ALL insurance is useless. Go to Canada, Australia or any CIVILIZED country and do much better.

By James on March 08, 2017

I work at a chiropractic office and we get a lot of people that come in with medicare asking for treatment however we have to decline them because as of right we still do not accept medicare. So doing some research on my own I found this page and I was curious if medicare still covers chiropractic care, I noticed this article is from 2015 so I want to be 100% sure. If so what would be the process? Does the potential patient need a referral from their primary doctor first? Or can they come straight to us without the need of a referral?

Medicare covers chiropractic but only for a subluxation. Therefore, xrays and other determining factors would need to be done at another doctor's office. Therefore, a referral is most likely necessary, and the chiropractor would need to accept Medicare assignment. For specific details, contact Medicare directly.
-Amy from

By Dee Siat on January 15, 2017

I read that Medicare covers chiropractic care I have 3 really serious subluxation and I'm always in pain. I found a chiropractor who took Medicare when the paperwork was submitted to Medicare they declined payment. I took the precaution of calling Medicare before going to the doctor and it was confirmed that yes they do cover manual adjustment of the spine I don't understand why Medicare then declined it. I really do need the chiropractic care to keep the pain level low can you help me understand why they declined it? Thank you

While we understand how frustrating this is, unfortunately, only Medicare can explain why your services weren't covered.
-Amy from

By Coretta Gilliam on September 22, 2016

I want and wish to enroll in a Medical Plan which I can get Drug and Alcohol Acupuncture Treatments and Would you have an Application to be sent to Me?

While all Medicare health plans cover treatment for drug and alcohol dependency, acupuncture is not covered by Medicare or Medigap, and rarely is covered by Medicare Advantage. If you would like help finding the best Medicare Health Plan for drug and alcohol dependency, please call one of our Senior65 licensed independent insurance agents at 800-930-7956.
-Michelle from

By Lynn on August 21, 2016

My mother is in a nursing home and is on Medicare and Medicaid. Mom has lymphedema and has to wear therapeutic knee high stockings which are quite expensive. Does Medicare or Medicaid help cover the cost for these stockings?

Medicare most likely will not pay for therapeutic stockings, but will cover shoes or inserts, if you qualify. You will need to speak to Medicare or Medicaid to see if you qualify.
-Michelle from

By Del on August 14, 2016

I discovered the hard (and expensive) way that Medicare will not cover a first visit to a chiropractor. The appointment for severe neck and arm pain traveling down my left arm only amounted to a 20 minute visit recommending a MRI x-ray and a follow-up bill for $154 out of my pocket. Do you realize how much an hour this is??? My question is: If Medicare refuses to pay this type of chiropractic visit, why doesn't my Plan F, which I also carry, kick in and take care of the bill? Isn't this the reason I carry a Plan F supplement--to take care of medical bills that Medicare doesn't??

We completely understand your confusion. A common misconception about Medigap policies are that they cover everything that Medicare doesn't cover. The real story is, Medigap will only pick up the gaps for health care that Medicare originally partially covers (ie. it can cover your Part A and B deductibles, copays, and coinsurance). So, since Original Medicare has strict limitations on chiropractic coverage, so does Medigap.

You may want to seek care from a physical therapist, as Medicare and Medigap offer broader coverage. To learn more, read our article Does Medicare Cover Physical Therapy?
-Amy from

By Charles Kemp on June 15, 2016

I think it is nice that Medicare covers Chiropractic services. That is actually a service that is more important than people believe. It can really make a difference in your life if you get your back checked.

By Irene on April 11, 2016

Do I need a doctor referral for a chiropractor in order to Medicare pay for chiropractor visit?or can I just make an appointment with out a referral?

You won't need your primary care physician to refer you to a chiropractor; however, Medicare only covers manipulation of the spine for a subluxation. Usually this requires an X-ray, and Medicare generally doesn't cover X-rays from a chiropractor's office. So, you might need to see a physical therapist first.
-Amy from

By Dianne on April 08, 2016

I don't routinely see my chiropractor so when I do need to see him for an adjustment he tells me he is required by Medicare to do an evaluation each time I do see him and that Medicare does not pay for the evaluation AND that once a year Medicare also requires him to do X-rays and they don't cover that either. If Medicare doesn't cover these two things than my insurance won't cover it either so my question is does Medicare require both of these things and then not pay any portion of them ?

Medicare only covers chiropractic if a manipulation of the spine if medically necessary to correct a subluxation. Since, no other costs are covered at your chiropractor's office, you may want to have your physical therapist do your X-rays, as their services are covered.
-Amy from

By Niki R on April 07, 2016

I have the Medicare Plan "J" which I'm aware is no longer offered. If I choose acupuncture instead of surgery for a torn rotator cuff (due to a picnic table turning over with/on me), I'll be saving the system a lot of money. Will the acupuncture not even be reimbursed to me by Medicare?

Since Medicare does not cover acupuncture, you will not be covered for treatment. However, Medicare will pay for physical therapy. If you are looking to switch your Medigap plan, call one of our licensed independent insurance agents at 800-930-7956.
-Chris from

By Betty on April 06, 2016

My chiropractor accepts Medicare, but I am thinking of switching to a Medicare advantage program. Will my chiropractor need to be in network with the new PPO for me to continue seeing her? Assuming that I pick a PPO plan that covers chiropractic care. Or since she is already accepting Medicare Part B, can I still keep seeing her anyway?

If you switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage your network will significantly shrink. You will need to check to see if there are PPO plans available in your area (most are HMOs), and if your chiropractor works in network. For help finding Medicare Advantage plans in your area call one of our licensed independent insurance agents at 800-930-7956.
-Eric from

By debbie on March 16, 2016

does medicare cover physical therapy done by a chiropractor

If your chiropractor is also a licensed physical therapist, and they accept Medicare assignment, Medicare will cover your physical therapy. You may want to consider Medigap to fill in the gaps in Medicare's coverage for your physical therapy out of pocket costs. For help finding the right Medigap plan, contact one of our licensed independent insurance agents at 800-930-7956.
-Amy from

By Ruth on March 09, 2016

I turn 65 this month and am interested in finding the best plan where I can get Chiropractic Care covered. this is the main Medical service that I utilize and I don't really trust traditional Western medicine. I basically use mostly natural alternative treatments and no prescription drugs. I realize this is not the norm, but it's what is working best for me. from what I read so far most supplemental plans have very limited Chiropractic coverage. what do you suggest?

Medicare specifies that chiropractic services can only be used for manipulation of the spine if medically necessary to correct a subluxation; therefore, Medigap plans, which supplement Original Medicare, only cover this particular care. You might find that a Medicare Advantage plan offers more chiropractic care. Please call 800-930-7956 and one of our licensed independent insurance agents will help you find a plan in your area.
-Amy from

By Pat on November 12, 2015

I will be traveling Europe next . Will Medicare cover or reimburse any medical expenses incurred there?

Medicare does not cover foreign emergency care in most cases, and definitely not in Europe. However, check out our article on how Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans may cover your foreign emergency care. Hope this helps!
-Amy from

By Bruce K. Nickles on September 25, 2015

I see John Spader out of Ripon WI. for acupunture. John S. knows my situation so he is working baseicley for free. The doctors I been seeing havent done anything for me accept say see you in a year. John says see you next week he never puts down Doctors. I have pml without the aids ,I ask the doctor witch is good at what she does. Kelly Parnnell at nero science group was recamended at MAYO CLINIC in Minn .Witch I have been 3 times they didnt do noting for me. accept charge a lot of money. that is why i am out of money acupnture and John is my last resort. But I have $ dollars into John Spader so far at least some one knows what there doing. Bruce

By ELISABETH FULLER on September 22, 2015

What medicare advantage program covers acupuncture?

Thank you for your question. To find Medicare Advantage plans that cover acupuncture in your area, give us a call at 800-930-7956. This way we can check the available plans' benefits.
-Amy from

By DONNA ROBERTSON on August 18, 2015

What is the difference between Medigap.....Medicare Part C..... Medicare Part D......Medicare Advantage I require Chiropratic Care because of two subluxations causing stenosis. I am also having to go see a Pain Doctor, requiring MRI 's and Lumbar Epidurals or Caudals. I NEED HELP! Which plan should I choose as Blue Advantage doesnt help much at all.

We know how confusing it can be. Here are some quick answers to your questions:

Medigap: It supplements Original Medicare by filling in the gaps in coverage.

Medicare Advantage: Is also known as Part C. It "replaces" Original Medicare for most services by creating a smaller, local HMO type of network.

Part D: Is Prescription Drug coverage.

Generally speaking, we recommend going with a Medigap policy such as "C" or "F", if it is within your budget. With Medigap Plan C or F, your coinsurance, copays, and deductibles will be covered if Medicare covers your chiropractic, physical therapy, MRI, and other pain management services. Hope this helps!
-Amy from

By Chase Wilson on August 13, 2015

That is surprising to me that medicare won't cover this type of treatment. If anything, there should be better rates for you to go see a chiropractor and get regular acupuncture because it is the equivalent of preventative maintenance and can keep the company out of paying for larger bills. Preventative maintenance is the best kind, especially when you are considering this type of stuff where your body and mind are the subjects.

By Miriam Soskin on August 10, 2015

Will my Aetna Medicare Supplement Plan F cover Accupuncture?

Unfortunately, Medicare and Medigap do not cover acupuncture, at this time. They do cover chiropractic and physical therapy. Hope this helps.
-Eric from

By Charlene on August 03, 2015

there wa a notation that new plans were available on acupuncture with Medicare as of 6/15. What would that be?

We haven't heard that Original Medicare will be including acupuncture, however, many Medicare Advantage plans currently cover them. We will update if we learn that Medicare will cover acupuncture.
-Eric from

By Karen Cahill on August 02, 2015

I took my mom to a chiropractor and he charged her $50.00 for the 1st visit and told her she only could have 6 sessions. Is this true? Please let me know so I can address her PCP with the correct information.

Thank you for your question. Medicare does not put a cap on chiropractic sessions, but it is only for spinal manipulations. However, if your mother has a Medicare Advantage plan they may put different limitations on the plan.

If she does have a Medicare Advantage plan, contact the insurance provider and have them tell you what their policy is. If she has Original Medicare, ask the chiropractor why he/she is claiming that there is a cap of sessions. Hope this helps.
-Amy from

By Earl the Pearl on July 23, 2015

I want to share one thing not included in this article. I signed for Blue Shield Medigap in northern California. It may be correct that Medigap doesn't cover accupuncture but I read that all Blue Shield members are eligible for 25% savings on acupuncture or even massages (yay!) when you see their contracted providers. I hope this might be helpful for your users. -Earl the Pearl

By on June 30, 2015

Please advise if my policy covers acupuncture or not? Do we have the Medicare Advantage Plan? Also I need a new Medicare Card mailed to me. It has one letter at the end and I am told I need the newer card with a 2nd. letter. Many thanks- Edie I. Leibman

Thank you for your questions. If you have Original Medicare, your plan does not cover acupuncture. If you have an HMO or PPO plan, you likely have Medicare Advantage, which might cover acupuncture. Please call us at 800-930-7956 to learn which plan you have.

You'll want to contact Medicare directly to order a new card (Go to the CMS website and they can help you there). -Amy from

By GAE MYERS on June 08, 2015

Is there any medicare coverage for acupunctuary treatment?

Thank you for your question. Original Medicare does not cover either acupuncture, but it does cover chiropractic. If you want to go a different route, some Medicare Advantage plans cover acupuncture and chiropractic. Hope this helps.
-Eric from

By Patrick Siddall on May 28, 2015

→My doctor recommended that my domestic partner acquire a blood pressure machine for our home so that she can monitor her blood pressure twice daily because she is at risk for stroke. Will Medicare reimburse her for all or part of this cost?

As far as we know most blood pressure monitors are not covered by Medicare; however, there are some circumstances in which they are covered. If your domestic partner falls under the following circumstances she may qualify for Medicare to pay 80%. If she has Medigap policy that covers the Part B coinsurance, then it would cover part or all of the other portion. Here are the some of the qualifications laid out by CMS:
  • Office blood pressure >140/90 mm Hg on at least three separate clinic/office visits with two separate measurements made at each visit;
  • At least two documented blood pressure measurements taken outside the office which are <140/90 mm Hg; and
  • No evidence of end-organ damage.
Hope this helps!
-Amy from

By Gordon on May 11, 2015

How do I get help for a back injury??

Thanks for your question. We cannot give out medical advice so please check with your doctor first to come up with a treatment plan. As explained in this article, you can get some chiropractic care covered through Medicare. Medicare also covers some of the cost of physical and occupational therapy. Hope this helps!
-Chris from

PLEASE NOTE: We cannot comment on specific Medicare claims. Contact Medicare directly if you are trying to see if your issue is covered.

We will not publish your last name or email if you submit this form.

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