Does Medicare cover chiropractic care visits and services? Some plans do if you meet specific requirements, while others do not offer coverage. Learn more here.

By Danetha Doe
Updated May 21, 2020

Key Takeaways

  • Original Medicare covers manual manipulation of the spine to correct subluxation.

  • Medicare Part A does not cover chiropractic care.

  • Medicare Part B covers chiropractic visits as long as it is medically necessary.

  • Some Medicare Advantage plans offer routine chiropractic services as a benefit.

Does Medicare Cover Chiropractic Care?

The only chiropractic service covered by the Original Medicare program (Medicare Part A and Part B) is manual manipulation of the spine if it is medically necessary for a condition known as spinal subluxation. This service is sometimes referred to as a spinal adjustment.

Medicare Part A will not cover this procedure, but Medicare Part B will cover chiropractic care if it meets the medical requirements.

Some Medicare Part C (or Medicare Advantage) plans will also cover manual manipulation and may cover additional chiropractic services.

What is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care is defined as a way to diagnose and treat health problems that affect the nerves, muscles, bones and joints of the body. It is a treatment system designed to align your muscles and bones.

The basis of chiropractic care is manual manipulation of the spine, where there is hands-on adjustment. The goal of this procedure is to improve spinal motion, thereby improving your overall physical health.

The two common causes of lower back pain are osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis. Chiropractic care can help to lessen the pain in many mild and moderate cases of stenosis.

Medicare Part B Coverage of Chiropractic Care

In 1972, chiropractic services were first made available to Medicare beneficiaries with specific plans. Today, Medicare Part B and some Medicare Advantage (or Medicare Part C) plans continue to cover chiropractic care.

The only chiropractic service covered through Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) is manual manipulation of the spine to correct subluxation. Subluxation happens when one or more spinal bones shift out of position. Medicare Part B medical insurance covers this procedure only in instances where it is determined to be medically necessary chiropractic care.

As mentioned, Medicare Part A does not cover chiropractic care. You must have Medicare Part B to be considered for chiropractic care coverage.

Under Medicare Part B, you can go to the chiropractor as many times as you need, as long as it is medically necessary. Generally, there is no cap on the number of manual manipulation visits. However, be sure to check your plan for specific information.

Want to learn more about your Medicare options?

Medicare Part C Coverage of Chiropractic Care

Some Part C, or Medicare Advantage plans, offer routine chiropractic services as a benefit. These plans typically cover a portion of chiropractic care.

Often, Medicare Advantage plans cover 80% of the costs while you pay for the remaining 20%.

Additionally, some Medicare Supplement plans (also known as Medigap plans) offer chiropractic coverage services.

Under some private plans, Medicare pays for chiropractic services outside of manual manipulation. You will need to check with your plan provider to see what is available to you. Some of these services could include:

  • Chiropractic visits for pain relief, neuromusculoskeletal disorders and nausea

  • Therapeutic exercise

  • Neuromuscular re-education

  • Manual therapy (myofascial release, etc.)

  • Radiology

  • Spine, cervical (two or three views)

  • Spine, thoracic (two views)

  • Spine, lumbosacral (two or three views)

  • Durable medical equipment such as a sling (arm), lumbar cushion/cervical pillow, cervical collar (flexible foam), thoracic (rib belt), heel lift, wrist hand orthosis (wrist extension control cock-up) and wrist extension control

Learn More About Chiropractic Coverage

In most cases, Medicare does not cover other services or tests ordered by a chiropractor, such as X-rays, massage therapy and acupuncture. However, some private plans do cover these services. Be sure to review the plan or check with your provider for specifics.

Danetha Doe is an entrepreneur, journalist, and economist who specializes in writing about finance.