Does Medicare Cover Chiropractic Care?

Medicare Part B medical insurance will cover chiropractic manipulation of the spine if it is medically necessary and only if one or more of the bones in your spine have slipped out of position. You are still responsible for your deductible and 20 percent of the Medicare-approved cost.

What Is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care is a form of alternative medicine that focuses on the proper alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal system — the structure of your muscles and skeleton — to heal a condition without surgery or medication.

Much of chiropractic care is focused on the spine and is applied as an alternative means of providing pain relief in the back, joints, bones, muscles and other tissue or skeletal structures in the body.

Chiropractors generally have a four-year undergraduate degree and four years of chiropractic college. They use hands-on procedures to manipulate bones in the spine or joints to reduce pain and improve movement or mobility.

Chiropractic care is often used following tissue damage caused by falls, stress, overexertion, accidents or even lack of back support while sitting.

Did You Know?
Chiropractors follow the same regulations and ethical code as medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy. They do not prescribe drugs or perform surgical procedures but may refer patients to other health care professionals if medication or surgery is medically warranted.

Will Medicare Cover Your Chiropractor?

Medicare only pays for one type of chiropractic procedure and only if it’s used to treat a condition called subluxation — when one or more of the vertebrae in your spine are out of position. Medicare Part B will cover manual manipulation of your spine if a doctor determines it’s medically necessary.

In these cases, Medicare will pay 80 percent of the Medicare-approved cost of the procedure. You will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent of the bill after paying your Part B deductible — $198 per year in 2020.

Did You Know?
While Medicare will cover the costs of X-rays ordered by a medical doctor, it will not pay for X-rays ordered by a chiropractor. You are responsible for the full cost of X-rays, acupuncture, massage therapy or other medical services that a chiropractor orders for you.

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Chiropractic Care?

Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover additional chiropractic services not covered by Medicare Part B.

Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurers. They are required to cover everything that Original Medicare covers. So they will cover medically necessary spinal manipulation for subluxation just like Medicare Part B.

But Medicare Advantage plans are allowed to provide additional coverage for other treatments. Each plan differs in what it covers, so you should check with your plan’s administrator or agent to find out if a procedure is covered.

Chiropractic Care with Medigap Plans

If you have Original Medicare and have chiropractic treatments, a Medigap policy will cover your 20 percent share of the treatment cost.

Medigap is a Medicare supplemental insurance that helps cover your out-of-pocket costs with Original Medicare.

It can help pay for your coinsurance and copayments and, for some people with certain Medigap policies, it can help with deductibles.

Medigap plans sold to new enrollees with Medicare effective Jan. 1, 2020, are not allowed to cover the Medicare Part B deductible.

In 2020, the deductible was $198 per year. You’d have to pay that deductible for Part B medical services on top of your 20 percent share of treatment cost.

Last Modified: August 31, 2020

7 Cited Research Articles

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  2. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2019, May 7). Addressing Misinformation Regarding Chiropractic Services and Medicare. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNMattersArticles/downloads/SE0749.pdf
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  4. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Chiropractic Services. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/chiropractic-services
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  6. Association of Chiropractic Colleges. (n.d.). What Is Chiropractic? Retrieved from https://www.chirocolleges.org/prospective-students/what-is-chiropractic/
  7. Palmer College of Chiropractic. (n.d.). What is Chiropractic? Retrieved from https://www.palmer.edu/about-us/what-is-chiropractic/