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Will Medicare Cover Naturopathy

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

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Is Naturopathy Covered by Medicare

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. Yet, Medicare only covers acupuncture when treating chronic lower back pain. 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 if 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.

Does Medicare cover Naturopathic Doctors?

Medicare doesn’t cover visits to naturopathic doctors (NDs). While the Medicare-covered services above technically qualify as naturopathy, Medicare won’t pay for services from an ND, including generic visits.

A licensed acupuncturist must perform Medicare-approved acupuncture. Many NDs also happen to be licensed acupuncturists, but acupuncture to treat chronic lower back pain caused by a misaligned spine is the only service from this practitioner that will receive coverage.

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Additionally, it’s only possible to get coverage for chiropractic services performed by a licensed doctor of chiropractic (DC). It’s important to remember that the physical manipulation services NDs perform is similar to chiropractic care, but doesn’t qualify as such.

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, what Medicare covers is subject to change yearly. The range of what’s covered will possibly expand to include visits to an ND. Advantage plans may cover services from NDs 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 reduces the utilization 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 much as Medicare. While many of them will follow Medicare standards and opt-out of covering naturopathy, it’s not impossible to find a plan that offers more coverage for these services. Take a look at the plans in your area to see if one offers more coverage for naturopathy.

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 medicine and treatments themselves.

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FAQs

Does Medicare pay for functional medicine doctors?
For the most part, a doctor that practices a functional model of care won’t accept insurance, including Medicare.
Does Medicare cover alternative medicine?
Medicare doesn’t cover alternative therapies or natural medicines. So, those using medical marijuana or CBD can expect to pay out-of-pocket. On the other hand, some therapies like chiropractic care may have coverage.
Does Medicare cover homeopathic medicine?
Homeopathic medicine is another term for alternative medicine, for which Medicare doesn’t offer coverage. Thus, you’ll likely pay out-of-pocket for these services.

How to Get Help With Holistic Medical Costs on Medicare

While Medicare covers most of your doctor visits, it doesn’t cover visits to NDs. But, when you’re visiting an MD, DO, or DC, a Medigap plan can help pay 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.

Kayla Hopkins

Kayla Hopkins

Content Editor
Kayla Hopkins is an accomplished writer and Medicare educator serving as the Editor of MedicareFAQ.com. Upon completing her Communications degree from Ohio University, Kayla dedicated her time to understanding the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare. With her extensive background as a Licensed Insurance Agent, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing.
Ashlee Zareczny

Ashlee Zareczny

Compliance Manager
Ashlee Zareczny is the Compliance Manager for MedicareFAQ. As a licensed Medicare agent in all 50 states, she is dedicated to educating those eligible for Medicare by providing the necessary resources and tools. Additionally, Ashlee trains new and tenured Medicare agents on CMS compliance guidelines. Ashlee is a Medicare expert who specializes in Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D education.

8 thoughts on "Will Medicare Cover Naturopathy"

  1. I agree that Naturopathic doctors are much better able to treat people’s chronic health issues and eliminate most of them, whereas a MD is better suited for acute medical problems. I worked as an RN at our city’s primary hospital for 38 yrs. I only found a handful of nursing staff who just saw MD’s for their medical treatments. Most of the nurses I spoke to saw ND’s because they realized the limitations of the medical practitioners. I raised my 2 children with naturopathic care, along with other holistic practitioners. My daughter suffered from awful allergies along with the sinus infections which accompanied them starting at a young age. I took her allergy MD’s who only recourse was to place her on potent antibiotics for months. The allergy shots caused huge reactions and were discontinued because of it. When I had to pull her out of all preschool because she became so physically sick, I took her to a homeopathic Dr. It was only after his lengthy history of her symptoms, and exploration of her environment that he was able to eliminate all of her disabling allergy reactions , by using the very small homeopathic pinpoint sized balls of the similar allergens and gradually increasing them so that her body became accustomed to them, that all of her symptoms disappeared, never to return. That is just 1 example of how alternative providers have helped my children and myself. I developed fibromyalgia in my 40’s but with their help I was able to keep working full-time. I am so grateful for all of the excellent and effective care I’ve received along with my children over the years. Our lives would have been so much more negatively affected had I only used MD’s. I am now using an Advantage plan which offers naturopathic care as well as acupuncture. I had a bad case of Covid which left me with a bad dry cough which kept me awake at night well after all the other symptoms were gone…. About 2 months afterwards. My acupuncturist muscle tested me and found the weakness in my lungs, which she did acupuncture to strengthen them. Amazingly I didn’t cough again!!!! I had been resorting to cough syrup every night prior to that treatment. My Dr. knew of nothing more she could do, because my lungs were clear. Medicare would save so much money if they actually allowed people to use alternative care, and help them understand what each provider can do and treat. I am so grateful, and so are my friends who have benefitted from my own experiences.

    1. Why does Medicare not cover naturopathic doctors, homeopaths, acupuncture, etc? when these have shown for decades, no, centuries, that they work, and sometimes better than MDs??? Some of the best treatments are the result of NDs and MDs working together!

      1. Hello Aliza,

        While naturopathic treatment may be a viable option for some patients, Medicare does not cover alternative forms of medicine. This includes non-FDA-approved treatments.

  2. i would like to see Medicare and Medicaid to expand their coverage to include office visits to Naturopathic doctors, Acupuncturists, homeopathic doctors, etc… I’ve been using holistic medicine, including vitamins, herbs, homeopathy, to treat my different ailments for over 30 years since I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia back in January of 1983. I feel that a healthy diet and using holistic medicine makes me feel so much better than using conventional medications that I haven’t used in over 35 years. You don’t get adverse side effects from using holistic medicine as you do from using conventional. The problem with using conventional medications is that it only suppresses symptoms as opposed to using holistic in which it heals the body and the symptoms not just suppresses them. Hopefully Medicare and Medicaid will recognize this some day and allow more consumers like to myself to make a choice between the two. I’m a low income disabled adult that has a lot of out of pocket medical expenses because I choose quality over adequacy when comes to healthcare. My only source of income is Social security disability. Even though it can get somewhat expensive for me, it’s well worth the holistic approach than the conventional because it makes me feel so much better without all those adverse side effects from pharmaceutical drugs. I hope in the near future that Medicare and Medicaid will cover more holistic services as opposed to conventional. Thanks, Ron, a consumer who wants quality healthcare for everybody..

    1. Totally agree with everything you wrote! Medicare coverage needs to include naturopaths, acupuncture, functional medicine …

  3. I think a great solution would be to allow Medicare to cover ND’s that are licensed by an accrediting body. The scope of practice varies by state and would naturally only cover what that state allows. This is how it works with Medicaid in states that allow insurance coverage of NDs, why not Medicare too?

    1. @Dr. Silva. Hi, I agree with your comment, but I don’t think it will happen. I guess Medicare Advantage plans can offer some of that. Not sure. One of the issues I have is that M.D.s are allowed to engage in all sorts of medical billing way outside of their expertise. I saw a local doctor, who billed Medicare, to treat my “fibromyalgia.” She’d have me there for about 2 hours or so, 3 times per week. She had tea with me, talked, and did Reiki. She also through homeopathy remedies around like they were literally candy, allowing me to touch the remedies. Later, I found out one wasn’t supposed to do that. Plus, I took them way too often. She did massage (well, sort of). She called it trigger point therapy. She gave out some herbs, cut from her yard, which I won’t even go into. She billed everything as “psychiatric” also. It was ridiculous. Doctors should not be able to dabble in fields commonly and erroneously labeled as pseudoscience.

      Naturopathy should be covered as long as the person went through training. My experience with the medical community hasn’t been good. Even NDs have mistreated me, but they represent less than 1% of providers in my past. Out of 3 I saw though, two were dismissive, and all were incompetent.

      I’m saddened, frustrated, and slightly ticked tonight to see one of the few MDs I had seen doesn’t take any insurance, not even Medicare. The initial visit fee and deposit cost are insanely high. Subsequent fees will out most patients with fibromyalgia. She’s a fibro expert and one of few who appeared to go to bat for those diagnosed with the what she adequately, “the f word of medicine.” I know that she has to make a living, and I get that, but the most disabled will not ever gain access to her form of treatment. It is treatment for the affluent, adding to the stigma that fibromyalgia is a disease of the affluent, one that engages in fad diets and treatments. Don’t get me wrong, diet helped me a lot, but it isn’t enough for most. That myofascial work is extremely expensive. Then, you add supplements and other helpful, non-covered remedies. Basically, it’s another way to stick it to the patient. I no longer will acknowledge fibromyalgia unless it gets me into some funding or medical treatment. Even then, I’ve quit asking. I’m done with it. Though I respect the research Dr. Liptan did on fibromyalgia and have empathy about her story, even she never got to the bottom of it really. What causes the tight fascia? Fibromyalgia is a word for a set of symptoms, which many people appear to experience. What the doctor fails to tell the patient is that there is an underlying cause and he/she/they isn’t aware of what it is. I’d try everything in my power, starting with eliminating gluten, corn, soy, cheap oils, sugar, milk, and some. Get allergy testing if you can, but it’s not always reliable. Again, the more money one has, the better treatment. It’s best to come up with an ND, MD, licensed acupuncturist with herbal training, or any provider who is dedicated enough to see some patients at a lower cost.

      Even if Medicare took payment for an N.D. for naturopathy, most NDs wouldn’t like the price. I’ve paid out-of-pocket for NDs. Also, people love to tell me their feelings about their profession and pay. I’ve heard nothing but complaints about Medicare from MDs, NDs, chiropractors, and more. Having said that, when telehealth started, a number of professionals dependent on private pay opened the doors for Medicare to keep their practice afloat. I was used firsthand by a provider in CA.

      I hope you get your wish, and maybe, one day you’ll provide disabled and retired people access to care. If Dr. Liptan won’t though, I’m not sure who will!

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