Coffee & Coverage: Does Medicare Cover Massage Therapy?

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This article was updated on January 4, 2021.

Massage is the manipulation of the body’s skin, muscles, and soft tissues to promote health and relaxation. Massages are performed by trained and certified massage therapists. 

Massage is one of the oldest forms of healing that has been practiced for centuries. There are different types of massage, such as Swedish, hot stone, sports, trigger point, and deep tissue. Massage therapy can help with many conditions, such as circulation, stress, stomach conditions, heart health, and muscle injury.  

Medicare coverage

Medicare does not cover massage therapy, as it is considered complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Medicare does cover physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services if they are deemed medically necessary. 

Medicare Part B will also cover chiropractic services only if they are deemed medically necessary and used to correct a subluxation of the spine. 

Costs

You will be responsible for all of the costs associated with massage therapy. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, it might offer more benefits. Check with your individual plan. 

You may be able to pay for massage therapy through your MSA, HSA, or FSA account. Check with your employer to find out more. 

Benefits of massage therapy

Massage therapy can be helpful with many ailments, such as:

  • Lower back pain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Digestive issues
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • High blood pressure
  • Migraines
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer pain
  • Muscle pain and injury

Other benefits of massage include relieving stress, helping you to sleep better, and flushing toxins from the body. 

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Massage can also provide heart benefits, improve circulation, loosen joints, speed up recovery from a sports injury, improve nerve function, and decrease inflammation. 

Risks of massage therapy

Risks of massage are rare, but can include:

  • Nerve injury
  • Blood clot
  • Bone fracture

You may need to avoid getting a massage if you have a bleeding disorder, burn, open wound, deep vein thrombosis, fracture, severe osteoporosis, or severe thrombocytopenia. Also talk to your doctor about whether you should get a massage if you are pregnant, have cancer, or have unexplained pain. 

When getting a massage, be sure to speak up and let your therapist know if anything is hurting or uncomfortable. Most therapists will ask you whether the amount of pressure is okay.

Don’t use massage therapy as a substitute for medical care. Be sure to see a doctor if you have persistent health problems. 

Ways to get help paying for a massage

There are ways to save on getting a massage. Here are some of the top choices.

  1. See if you can use HSA, FSA, or MSA funds towards your massage.
  2. Look up Groupons, Living Social coupons, or other coupons for massages in your area.
  3. Join a massage therapy spa to get discounts on treatments.
  4. Get a massage at a massage training institute, where you can have a session with a student for as little as $20.00.
  5. Put aside money each month in an account just for self-care activities for you.
  6. Trade services you can do with a massage from a therapist you know. 
  7. Use a foam roller or massage ball at home to massage your muscles. You can find videos online that will offer you good massage tips with a foam roller or massage ball. 
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Cigna

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