Does Medicare Cover Acupuncture?

The answer is yes, but only in very limited circumstances.

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance), covers acupuncture in limited circumstances and for a limited number of visits per year. Your ability to improve will also affect the number of treatments that you receive.

Medicare started covering acupuncture in 2020, in an effort to increase access to alternatives to prescription opioids for pain relief.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medical procedure that uses very thin needles to insert into the skin at certain points on the body, is known as acupuncture. This can be used to relieve pain, improve overall health and stress management. Practitioners believe that by inserting needles at specific points they can balance the flow and energy throughout the body.

What is Medicare’s coverage for acupuncture?

Medicare Part B will cover acupuncture only for chronic low back pain, which is defined by Medicare as:

  • It should last for 12 weeks or longer
  • It is not due to any known cause, such as an inflammatory disease.
  • There is no pain associated with pregnancy or surgery.
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A doctor or other health care provider must also provide acupuncture to you.

  • A Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine from a school that is accredited by the Accreditation Committee for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine.
  • Current, unrestricted, active, and complete license to practice Acupuncture in the State where you are receiving care.

What are the limitations on Medicare acupuncture coverage

Medicare covers up to 12 visits within 90 days. If you are improving, eight additional visits will be covered. Medicare will not cover the additional eight visits if your doctor believes your back pain is not improving or getting worse. Medicare will not cover more than 20 acupuncture treatment per year.

Does Medicare Advantage cover acupuncture?

Medicare Advantage plans — or Medicare Part C plans — are required to offer the same coverage that Medicare Part A and Part B provide, and they may offer additional benefits. To find out if your plan covers acupuncture in other circumstances or provides additional benefits, check with the provider.

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