Will Medicare suggest places I can get massage therepy from which they will cover?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 23, 2016
Linda b.m. asked...

I've had pain in my neck, shoulder, and hand for sometime. My dr. sent me for an MRI which didn't show a pinched nerve, as he suspected. He sent me for p.t. which only worsened the pain. I got a massage & it really helped. Will Medicare suggest places I can get massage therapy for which they'll pay?

Expert Answers

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover massage therapy, regardless of how effective it is in relieving pain. There are many things that people find valuable in relieving pain -- including aspirin and other over-the counter medicines, acupuncture and acupressure, sauna and steam baths -- that Medicare will not cover at all. This is either because they are not part of Medicare's coverage at all (such as non-prescription drugs) or because Medicare does not recognize their medical effectiveness, or because Medicare does not consider them to be "medical" treatment. Massage falls into this latter category.

One way you might find to get Medicare to cover some of the cost of massage therapy is if the massage is part of the treatment you receive from a Medicare-participating physical therapist. You would need to find a physical therapist who uses massage as part of his or her treatment, that physical therapist would have to participate in (be approved by) Medicare, and your doctor would have to give you a prescription for further physical therapy. If you manage to arrange all those things, you could then let the physical therapist know that so far massage has been the most effective treatment for you, and that you would like the therapist to use massage as much as is medically advisable and allowed by Medicare and other rules that govern the therapist's services.