Does Medicare pay for chiropractic care and treatment?

A quick answer is yes—Medicare Part B may pay a percentage of one type of chiropractic treatment. However, there are specific requirements for getting the treatment and payment approved.

Here’s a deeper look at chiropractic care and how Medicare helps pay for it.

What is chiropractic care and treatment?

Chiropractic care is a way to diagnose and treat health problems that affect the nerves, muscles, bones and joints of the body.1 Chiropractic treatments are typically applied to the back and neck and may be an alternative to surgery or pain medications.

What type of chiropractic treatment does Medicare cover?

Spinal manipulation is the only type of treatment Medicare Part B will cover.2 Also known as an adjustment, spinal manipulation involves a controlled thrust to the spine using hands or a device. The goal is to correct bones in your spine that are out of position, called spinal subluxation. Results may include reduced pain, lower inflammation and restored function.

What parts of Medicare pay for chiropractic care?

Medicare Part A – No

Part A pays for emergency procedures and hospital care only. Chiropractors typically provide non-emergency services and work out of private offices or clinics.

Medicare Part B – Yes

Part B helps pay for one chiropractic service: spinal manipulation.3 Here are some important facts to know:

  • The treatment must be deemed necessary by a medical professional
  • The issue being treated must be an existing problem (no preventive treatment)
  • You must pay your Part B deductible before Medicare pays its share
  • Once your deductible is met, Part B will pay 80% of the Medicare-approved treatment amount—you will still owe 20%
  • Other services or tests, including X-rays, are not covered

Medicare Part C – Maybe

Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, are Medicare plans offered by private insurance companies. Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover chiropractic treatments, but the terms can be different for each individual. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, check with your provider to see what chiropractic services are covered.

The bottom line

Medicare is very limited in what it covers for chiropractic care. Part B will pay 80% of the treatment cost, but only after you’ve met your annual deductible.4 A Medicare Advantage plan may cover some or all of the costs, but plans can vary per person and provider.

Sources

  1. “Chiropractic care for back pain,” medlineplus.gov, last accessed June 2020, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000416.htm, opens new window.
  2. “Chiropractic services,” medicare.gov, last accessed June 2020, https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/chiropractic-services#, opens new window.
  3. “Chiropractic services.”
  4. “Chiropractic services.”

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