Does Medicare Cover Occupational Therapy?

Medicare will cover occupational therapy if it is medically necessary that you receive it. Under Part A, Medicare could cover your treatments if you are an inpatient. Part B will cover 80 percent of the cost if you are an outpatient, leaving you with 20 percent after you have met your deductible.

Christian Simmons, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Christian Simmons

    Christian Simmons

    Financial Writer

    Christian Simmons is a writer for RetireGuide and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®). He covers Medicare and important retirement topics. Christian is a former winner of a Florida Society of News Editors journalism contest and has written professionally since 2016.

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  • Edited By
    Lee Williams
    Lee Williams, senior editor for RetireGuide.com

    Lee Williams

    Senior Financial Editor

    Lee Williams is a professional writer, editor and content strategist with 10 years of professional experience working for global and nationally recognized brands. He has contributed to Forbes, The Huffington Post, SUCCESS Magazine, AskMen.com, Electric Literature and The Wall Street Journal. His career also includes ghostwriting for Fortune 500 CEOs and published authors.

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  • Published: June 16, 2021
  • Updated: November 1, 2022
  • 3 min read time
  • This page features 12 Cited Research Articles
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APA Simmons, C. (2022, November 1). Does Medicare Cover Occupational Therapy? RetireGuide.com. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/services/occupational-therapy/

MLA Simmons, Christian. "Does Medicare Cover Occupational Therapy?" RetireGuide.com, 1 Nov 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/services/occupational-therapy/.

Chicago Simmons, Christian. "Does Medicare Cover Occupational Therapy?" RetireGuide.com. Last modified November 1, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/services/occupational-therapy/.

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What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy can rehabilitate you from an injury or medical condition to perform daily activities like bathing, getting dressed, eating or driving. The treatments can also slow the decline of your abilities in these areas.

Conditions That Could Need Occupational Therapy
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Pain rehabilitation
  • Obesity

Occupational therapy is especially effective when dealing with stroke recovery. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, stroke is one of the leading causes of adult disability in the United States. Rehabilitation through occupational therapy could help stroke victims continue to do daily activities or adapt them to whatever function they have left.

Occupational therapy and physical therapy are not the same things. While physical therapy focuses on your mobility and the function of a specific muscle or body part, occupational therapy is meant to help you complete activities and goals that are part of your everyday life.

Check with your doctor or healthcare provider about which type of therapy they are recommending.

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Understanding Medicare Coverage of Occupational Therapy

Medicare covers occupational therapy if it is a medical necessity and ordered by your doctor or healthcare provider.

If you are an outpatient, then Medicare Part B will cover 80 percent of occupational therapy costs. You can still be considered an outpatient even if you receive treatment in a hospital or are hospitalized. Check with your doctor to learn your status as a patient.

If you are an inpatient and are staying in a hospital, skilled nursing facility or another similar environment, then Medicare Part A could also cover occupational therapy. However, you will have to pay your Part A deductible and any coinsurance before Medicare covers the rest of the cost.

Did You Know?
The Medicare Part A deductible for 2023 is $1,600.
Source: Medicare.gov

You can receive occupational therapy in your home if it is part of home health care, which Medicare covers if you meet certain conditions.

Medicare's Rules and Exclusions for Occupational Therapy

Medicare covers services that are considered medically necessary. However, suppose you want occupational therapy for a non-medical purpose or even for a reason that is not considered essential to your health. In that case, Medicare will not help pay for it. Of course, your doctor may also recommend treatment, but that does not mean that Medicare will automatically cover it.

If your treatments are a medical necessity, then there are a few rules and exclusions to how Medicare will cover your occupational therapy.

Two-Midnight Rule

Under the ”two-midnight rule,” Medicare Part A can be used to pay for services that you receive if you are expected to stay in the hospital through two midnights. However, Part A should not be used if your hospital stay is not expected to last that long.

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Medicare Cap Removal

Until recently, there was a cap on how much money Medicare would spend covering your occupational therapy, physical therapy and similar services in a calendar year. That cap was removed in 2018, meaning your therapy will no longer be automatically cut off, allowing you to receive as much treatment as you need if it remains medically necessary.

Occupational Therapy Coverage Through Medicare Advantage

Additional coverage for occupational therapy and similar services is also available through a Medicare Advantage plan. This plan is provided by private insurers and covers everything included in Original Medicare as well as additional benefits and coverage.

If you are interested in coverage beyond what Original Medicare offers for occupational therapy, learn more about what a Medicare Advantage plan could include.

Last Modified: November 1, 2022

12 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022, September 27). 2023 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles 2023 Medicare Part D Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/2023-medicare-parts-b-premiums-and-deductibles-2023-medicare-part-d-income-related-monthly
  2. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). Costs. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/basics/costs/medicare-costs
  3. University of Louisville Health. (2022, April 25). What is Occupational Therapy? Retrieved from https://uoflhealth.org/articles/what-is-occupational-therapy/
  4. University of Tennessee Health Science Center. (2021, May 12). What is OT? Retrieved from https://www.uthsc.edu/health-professions/occupational-therapy/about/what-is-ot.php
  5. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2021, March 31). Therapy Services. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Billing/TherapyServices
  6. St. Catherine University. (2021, February 24). Occupational Therapy vs Physical Therapy: What’s the Difference? Retrieved from https://otaonline.stkate.edu/blog/occupational-therapy-vs-physical-therapy/
  7. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2019, April). Outpatient Rehabilitation Therapy Services: Complying With Documentation Requirements. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNProducts/Downloads/OutptRehabTherapy-Booklet-MLN905365.pdf
  8. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2015, October 30). Fact Sheet: Two-Midnight Rule. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/fact-sheet-two-midnight-rule-0
  9. American Occupational Therapy Association. (n.d.). The Role of Occupational Therapy in Stroke Rehabilitation. https://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Professionals/RDP/stroke.aspx
  10. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. (n.d.). OT vs PT: What’s the Difference? Retrieved from https://www.mcphs.edu/about-mcphs/news/occupational-therapy-versus-physical-therapy
  11. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Medicare costs at a glance. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/medicare-costs-at-a-glance
  12. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Occupational therapy. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/occupational-therapy