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Will Medicare Cover Naturopathy


Naturopathy’s popularity is on the rise with older demographics. Medicare sometimes provides coverage for services falling under the category of naturopathy. If you’re seeking natural treatments and are wondering if you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket, we’re here with the answers to your questions.

Does Medicare Cover Naturopathy?

Naturopathy is naturopathic medicine. Used to prevent and heal a full range of ailments, it includes practices like acupuncture and chiropractic services. Massage, exercise, and nutrition are other examples of this genre of medicine. Typically less invasive than most traditional methods, naturopathy focuses on alternative cures and treatments. Medicare recipients may opt for more natural remedies over expensive surgeries or prescription medications. But what does this mean for coverage? Well, Medicare only covers some services that fall under this category.

Recently, acupuncture started receiving coverage from Medicare. This change aims to reduce opioid painkiller dependence. Medicare only covers acupuncture when treating chronic lower back pain. Yet, some Medicare Advantage plans provide additional acupuncture coverage.

The back pain must meet specific criteria to get coverage. If you want to try acupuncture to relieve pain in another part of your body or your back pain isn’t chronic, you’ll pay for the services.

Also, chiropractic services have coverage under Medicare only to correct a misaligned spine. If you visit the chiropractor for any other reason, your services won’t have coverage. However, some Advantage plans provide extra chiropractic benefits that aren’t covered by Part B.

As for nutrition, Medicare only covers nutrition counseling if you have certain health conditions, such as diabetes or kidney ailments. A registered dietician is usually responsible for administering this counseling.

Why Medicare Won’t Pay for Naturopathy

Except for the examples above, Medicare doesn’t cover visits to naturopathic doctors. While naturopathic doctors go through extensive education and training, not every state issues licenses to naturopathic doctors. Also, naturopathic doctors don’t need to complete medical residencies. Therefore, their training isn’t comparable to that of a Medical Doctor. Yet, Medicare changes what is covered yearly. A naturopathic doctor coverage in the future and the range of what’s covered will possibly expand. Advantage plans may cover a broader variety of services in certain states.

Does Medicare Cover Osteopathy?

Osteopathy isn’t the same as naturopathy. In fact, Medicare provides coverage for services from doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) as well as Doctors of Medicine (MD). Similar to naturopathy, osteopathy focuses holistically on the body and avoids the use of drugs. This type of medicine focuses on manipulating the bones and muscle tissue to promote healing. Yet, that aspect is considered an extra in the training that DOs undergo.

DOs obtain the same training as MDs, complete residencies, and are recognized nationwide. Therefore, Medicare covers visits to a DO’s office the same way they cover visits to an MD. The DO of your choice must accept Medicare assignment, and your treatment should be medically necessary for coverage to kick in.

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Naturopathy?

Medicare Advantage plans must cover at least as good as Medicare. While many of them will follow Medicare standards and opt-out of covering naturopathy, it’s not impossible. You can look at the plans in your area to see if one offers coverage for Naturopathy. Although, in most cases, you won’t find this kind of coverage.

Does Medigap Cover Naturopathic Medicine?

No, Medicare Supplement plans only cover services Medicare will approve. So, since Medicare doesn’t cover Naturopathic Medicine, your Medigap plan won’t either. Those with Medigap will pay for alternative medicines themselves.

FAQs

Are there any insurance companies that will cover naturopathic doctors?
Many insurance companies won’t cover naturopathic doctors. But, some insurance companies do. Coverage depends greatly on the type of insurance you have.
Does Medicare pay for Functional Medicine?
For the most part, a doctor that practices a functional model of care won’t accept insurance.
Does Medicare cover alternative therapies?
Medicare doesn’t cover alternative therapies or natural medicines. So, for those that use medical marijuana or CBD, you can expect to pay for those things yourself. Although, some therapies like chiropractic care may have coverage.

How to Get Help With Holistic Medical Costs on Medicare

While Medicare covers most of your doctor visits, it doesn’t cover naturopathy. But, when you’re visiting an MD or a DO, a Medigap plan can help pay for the extra amount for which you’d otherwise be responsible.

Give our agents a call at the phone number above. They’ll prepare a premium rate comparison of plans in your area. You can also get this comparison by filling out our online rate form today.

Lindsay Engle

Lindsay Engle is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ. She has been working in the Medicare industry since 2017. She is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare. You can also find her over on our Medicare Channel on YouTube as well as contributing to our Medicare Community on Facebook.

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