Does Medicare Cover Alternative Medicine?

What is alternative medicine? Alternative medicine is a medical therapy that is not regarded as traditional by the medical profession. Alternative medicines include homeopathy, acupuncture, and herbalism. Alternative medicine focuses on the body’s healing ability via herbal supplements, energy alignment, and other techniques. Within alternative medicine, you can focus on healing your body through aspects of exercise, eating healthy, mental health, and alternative forms of medicine and treatment. Alternative medicine focuses on mind, body, and soul.

People will seek alternative medicine when they are dissatisfied with conventional medical treatment or see these alternative treatments as more compatible with their views or situation. Alternative medicine is big among different groups of people, and it is gaining traction. If you’re interested in alternative medicine or alternative treatment, make sure you do your research and work closely with a professional to ensure you are doing what’s suitable for your health.

Will Medicare Cover Alternative Medicine?

If you wonder if Medicare will cover alternative medicine, the answer is no when it comes to Original Medicare. Original Medicare, Parts A and B do not cover alternative medicine. There may sometimes be exceptions to this, but it will generally not be covered.

However, Medicare Advantage plans may cover some other medicines, therapies, and treatments that Original Medicare will not cover. You can shop around for different Medicare Advantage plans and see if they offer benefits that will cover alternative medicine.

What are Some Other Alternative Care Forms that Medicare Covers?

While Medicare does not cover alternative medicine, as you can see, it may cover different forms of alternative care under certain circumstances. Physical therapy is covered by Part B when it is medically necessary. A physical therapist must perform the treatments and show that you need this treatment. You will be responsible for 20% of the cost of physical therapy.

Chiropractic treatment is another form of alternative care that Part B covers. Part B will cover adjustments for your spine if you have a slipped bone in your spine diagnosis. You will be responsible for 20% of the treatment cost and your Part B deductible. Medicare currently does not cover other services provided by chiropractors.

Will Medicare Cover Acupuncture?

As of 2020, acupuncture is covered if you take 12 sessions within a 90-day timeframe for lower back pain and offers up to 20 sessions for acupuncture for the year. Acupuncture is a holistic remedy used for the treatment of acute and chronic pain. This service will be covered by Medicare Part B.

The acupuncture treatment must be provided by a qualified health professional or a doctor who has a doctoral or master’s degree in acupuncture and a current, active, unrestricted license to practice acupuncture within the state you are receiving your care.

You may qualify for acupuncture coverage if:

  • You received a diagnosis of low back pain lasting 12 weeks+
  • There is no identified cause for the back pain
  • You cannot associate pregnancy or surgery to the back pain


Alternative medicine is a way to treat your entire body incorporating aspects of exercise, healthy eating, mental health, and alternative forms of medicine and treatment. While Original Medicare does not pay specifically for alternative medicines, it does cover some alternative care forms such as physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic treatment under Medicare Part B.

There are specifications for these services to be covered, however. These services will need to be considered medically necessary. Some may have to be provided by a qualified health professional. When looking into alternative medicine, you can reach out to your plan provider and see if what you are looking into will be covered.

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