Does Medicare Cover Massage Therapy?

Medicare Benefits Solutions

Jan 25, 2021

According to Medicare, massage therapy is an alternative treatment method. Unless your doctor determines it is medically necessary, Medicare does not cover the cost of a standalone massage therapy session.

However, physical therapy (PT) is usually covered so if you receive a massage as part of a PT session then you may be covered. You may also be able to find a Medicare Advantage plan that includes therapeutic massage and additional benefits.

Benefits of Therapeutic Medical Massage

There are many reasons you could experience muscle aches and pains, including physical strain and tension. While there are plenty of medications available to help with sore muscles, many people find that a soothing massage is the best way to deal with these problems.

Top massage benefits include:

  • Increased joint flexibility
  • Reduced muscle pain
  • Improved circulation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Marked improvement in symptoms associated with certain chronic health conditions such as fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety and arthritis

Massage therapy is available to people of all ages and activity levels, and in the hands of an experienced masseuse, the massage experience can relieve pain, tension and stress while also assisting in flexibility and relaxation.

Does Medicare Ever Pay for Massage Therapy?

Medicare offers benefits to recipients that are intended to address medical problems, so you might think that massage therapy would be a covered service since there are many health benefits to receiving such services. Unfortunately, Medicare benefits do not cover massage therapy in the traditional sense. This is because massage therapy isn’t recognized as being a medical necessity. While receiving a massage can help relieve pain, it is not a medical necessity because there are accepted medical means to address such concerns.

Medicare recipients who receive massage therapy will be responsible for 100% of the cost. The only way that massage therapy may be technically covered by Medicare benefits is if massage techniques are utilized during physical therapy. Physical therapy is covered by Medicare under Part B, but the treatment you receive cannot be solely for the purpose of receiving a massage. If you happen to be massaged during the therapy session, the service as a whole is billed as physical therapy.

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Medicare Advantage Plans May Cover Massage Therapy

Although Medicare Advantage plans offer the same coverage as Original Medicare at a minimum, many of these plans also include additional benefits. As a result, your Medicare Advantage plan may offer coverage of massage therapy in the form of discounts on massage services. Each plan is unique, so Medicare recipients who take part in a Medicare Advantage plan are encouraged to consult with their plan managers to learn more.

TIP: Discover 7 reasons why you might want to switch Medicare Advantage plans.

Seeking Alternatives to Massage Therapy

Keep in mind that massages are not the only way to tackle tight muscles or stiff joints. In fact, in some cases, a massage can either mask an underlying medical condition or even make it worse. This is why it’s important to discuss concerns you have with your physician. He or she can provide an evaluation and recommend targeted medical treatments that have a proven track record of real results.

Top alternative treatment options:

While a massage may feel good, it will typically only offer short-term results. By turning to medications or medical procedures, you may be able to get back to living an active life free from pain and stiffness more quickly. The bottom line? Look at massage therapy as an addition to a healthy lifestyle, but turn to a trusted medical professional for a full evaluation to stay safe when getting healthy.

TIP: Our plan finder is a free online tool to help you filter available plans in your area including plans that may include additional benefits like massage therapy.

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