Medicare Coverage of Massage Therapy

What It Is

Outpatient massage therapy

What's Covered

Medicare doesn't cover massage therapy.

Note: An exception might be made for a very limited amount of massage therapy provided as part of Medicare Part B-covered physical therapy.

If you have a Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage plan: Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage plans, also called Medicare Advantage plans, must cover everything that's included in original Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. But sometimes a Part C plan covers more, with extra services or an expanded amount of coverage. (Co-payments for Part C plans may also be different than those for Part A or Part B.) To find out whether your plan provides extra coverage or requires different co-payments for massage therapy, contact the plan directly.

What Medicare Pays

Medicare pays nothing for massage therapy.

Important: Regardless of the rules regarding any particular type of care, in order for Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, or a Medicare Part C plan to provide coverage, the care must meet two basic requirements:

  • The care must be "medically necessary." This means that it must be ordered or prescribed by a licensed physician or other authorized medical provider, and that Medicare (or a Medicare Part C plan) agrees that the care is necessary and proper. For help getting your care covered, see FAQ: How Can I Increase the Odds That Medicare Will Cover My Medical Service?

  • The care must be performed or delivered by a healthcare provider who participates in Medicare.

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13 Comments So Far. Add Your Wisdom.

about 1 month ago

The article says "Note: An exception might be made for a very limited amount of massage therapy provided as part of Medicare Part B-covered physical therapy." OK, could somebody elaborate on this? I have had NMT under a physical therapist several times in the past and am now running into resistance now when going for physical therapy several years later and stating that this has always reduced my pain and improved my functioning. I'm looking into going back to work part-time, not because I'm better but because I don't have enough money to pay my living expenses, and getting those services that help the most is crucial right now. Under what circumstances and how much can this be done? Does it require a pre-approval and what does the patient, doctor, or physical therapist need to do to get Medicare to cover it?

2 months ago

I've had chronic back pain for over 10 yrs and the only thing that really gives me some relief is NMT which is a type of massage therapy. It makes absolutely no sense that ins & Medicare will cover expensive drugs and tests yet not cover something that really works and gets the patient back to functioning. When will congress open its eyes to these kind of common sense so,unions?!

Anonymous said 3 months ago

Try finding someone who does "soft and deep tissue manipulation" with bone and joint manipultion like my chiropratcters do. Many Chiros have a seperate department of "therapists" that specialize in that under there supervision. Terms," medically necessary", allergic to pain meds, job requires operating driving or heavy equipment operation

5 months ago

In checking with Anthem Blue Cross, with whom I have supplement plan "Senior Classic J", I am being told that I have outpatient massage therapy coverage at deductibles. Now I need to find a massage therapist that is setup to handle Medicare. Anyone know of someone?

10 months ago

I have fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis and have found a wonderful licensed neuromuscular massage therapist who has helped me immensely. The only problem is that Medicare won't pay for it and I cannot afford it. Medicare will pay for narcotics and physical therapy but not for a treatment that actually works. I am a 60 year old grandmother raising my two granddaughters and have been for the last eleven years. It is very difficult for me with the amount of pain I am in and I don't want to keep being medicated with pain meds. I think it is ludicrous that Medicare will not pay for a treatment that is both safe and healing but will pay for drugs that are harmful. Somehow this just doesn't seem right and leads me to believe that the government is receiving some kind of kick back from the drug companies. We need to make a change.

10 months ago

Hello, I'm a massage therapist myself and a Medicare insurance agent. It's been my mission to find ways for seniors to be able to get Medicare to pay for massage therapy. For now, the best and easiest way is to sign up with a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans offer discounts on massage therapy. Anywhere from 10 - 20% discount. 10% doesn't seem like a lot, and it's not, but 20% is a good discount. For instance, if you belonged to Humana, you can get a 20% discount on massage therapy from the network of therapist they have. I found one on their list that offers a 20% discount on a 1/2 hour massage. After the discount, the price comes out to about $28. That's not bad. But, I'm still looking for clever ways to reduce the price even more. You can always ask the massage therapist if he/she can reduce the base price slightly more if you keep regular weekly visits. For instance, if the base price is $35 for a half hour massage, and you agree to come in every week, the price might drop from $35 to $30 and with the plan discount on that, the price comes out to $24 a week. It's important you shop around for Medicare Advantage plans that have LOW monthly premiums. It used to be every body thought AARP was the only option, with premiums as high as $130.00 a month. Now, you can find plans with the same benefits with 0 premiums. Yes, I said 0 premiums and they have discounts on a network of massage therapists.

11 months ago

It infuriates me that massage therapy is not covered but expensive and possibly mind/body damaging drugs are. I have rheumatoid arthritis and have discovered in the past several months that massage therapy treatments are making a huge difference and enabling me to stay on methotrexate without going to stronger medications. However, being retired, it's costly for me. Some reimbursement sure would help.

11 months ago

With rheumatoid arthritis, I have found that massage therapy is making a huge difference in the way my body feels. I do not want to go on the heavy duty drugs that are available and the massage and methotrexate are working quite well. Why is it that body/mind damaging drugs are covered but the healthy treatment of massage therapy (which is also less expensive) is not. It infuriates me!

about 1 year ago

Does anyone know of an organized group trying to lobby congress and SS to get this changed so that massage will be covered by medicare. I am in desperate need and this is wrong that they wont cover. Surgery and body non function is much more costly.

over 1 year ago

Years ago I contacted US Senator Graham who checked on the question I posed to him, 'Why does Medicare refuse to allow reimbursement to a licensed massage practitioner when the service is deemed medically necessary and prescribed by a treating physician (who is a Medicare provider). He wrote back to me after checking and said in order for massage therapists to become Medicare Providers it would take an act of Congress and would have to go through the SS Administration. I am livid after being able to accept insurance from many avenues for 29 years and still unable to provide it with reimbursement for those most in need to prevent many ailments and to help others when nothing else helps. It is sickening that they will pay for surgery's, medications and other non effective services when the hands on touch and work of a well trained massage therapist can make a huge difference. My self, now on Medicare sure could use massage therapy for many issues. Just today, working muscle therapy on my own knee I averted a doctors appointment that may have lead to xrays, MRI or even eventually surgery. Most Medicare recipients are not massage therapists who can help themselves.

over 1 year ago

I agree with the statement above. Massage helps my fibromyalgia and lupus tremendously.. but medicare won't cover it. They will however cover large amounts of narcotics. Both help with pain but only one is healthy for my body. It's sad that one isn't covered..

over 2 years ago

With Fibromyalgia, I've found that massage helps GREATLY. I can no longer pay out of pocket for a massage. However, both Fibromyalgia and Massage Therapy aren't covered by Medicare and as our Muscular Dystrophy patient above stated, not by AARP's insurance and I have FULL coverage ($353/mos for 20% Supplemental Coverage). Disabled since 1994, I know what relieves my pain and what doesn't.. Stop the pain medications and allow us to receive massage therapy. I tired of being overdosed by physicians and seeing my friends, neighbors and family overdosed by physicians, when there are alternative therapies.

Anonymous said over 2 years ago

This helps, but I can not find anyone to do the prescribed deep tissue massage who takes medicare. I have two different prescriptions, Medicare & United Health Services Senior Supplement insurance...NO one to massage. I am a Muscular Dystrophy patient. Living in zip code 92109


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