Does Your Health Insurance Cover Alternative Medicine?

Does Your Health Insurance Cover Alternative Medicine

According to the most recent National Health Interview Survey, more than 33 percent of U.S. adults and nearly 12 percent of U.S. children use complementary health approaches including natural products, yoga, meditation, massage therapy and chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation. Most of them pay for these tools out of their own pockets because they do not realize that their insurer will cover all or a portion of their alternative care costs.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits insurers from discriminating against any licensed healthcare provider, whether they practice traditional or alternative medicine. Though health insurers can still deny coverage for treatments they consider experimental or not medically essential, some are beginning to cover well-established alternative tools like biofeedback, acupuncture and chiropractic care.

If you regularly visit a naturalist, chiropractor or massage therapist, it may be time to take a closer look at your health insurance plan. Start by calling your insurance company and asking them these questions about the alternative medicine coverage they provide:

  • Is alternative medicine treatment covered under my plan?
  • Must I get a referral from my general practitioner before seeing a chiropractor / acupuncturist / massage therapist for treatment?
  • Will I have to meet my deductible or do I have a copay for the treatment?
  • Is there a limit to the number of times I can visit my alternative healthcare provider?
  • Do I have to go to a provider in my policy network?

If you find out that your policy does indeed cover all or a portion of your alternative medicine treatments, you’ll now need to check with your providers to ensure they will bill your insurance company.  If this is the first time you’re visiting a chiropractor, acupuncturist or other alternative medicine practitioner, ask about costs for initial visits and follow-up appointments as well.

Check with your insurer before purchasing any supplements from your provider or scheduling other treatments he or she recommends. If you don’t do so beforehand, coverage limitations may result in additional costs for which you did not budget.

If your health insurance policy does not cover alternative medical care at all—or does not cover the specific services you want or need—you may still be able to reduce your treatment costs. Ask your provider if they offer a discount to patients who pay cash. Some may also have payment plans available.

Still unsure what your insurance plan covers? Want to explore other options before the next open enrollment period? Give us a call today for an insurance plan review.

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