6 Instances Where Medicare Covers Natural Health and Holistic Medicine

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The older we get, the more frail we become. That usually means a gradual increase in the number of drugs we depend on to live a comfortable life. But medication is often not without side effects. It’s in this context that more and more seniors are exploring holistic and natural health medicine as a means of staying in good health and enhancing their quality of life.

Unfortunately, Medicare hasn’t kept up with this gradual shift to natural health treatment methods. That’s due to skepticism over whether natural health and holistic medicine is backed by scientific research. The good news though, is that not all natural health and holistic medicine procedures fall outside the scope of Medicare.

Here’s a look at some instances where you could still be cushioned by Medicare when you decide to walk the path of natural health remedies.

  • Chiropractic Care

Medicare Part B can cover chiropractic care if it’s required for procedures relating to spinal manipulation meant to rectify subluxation. Spinal subluxation occurs when one or more bones shift out of position. Medicare Part B won’t cover tests the chiropractor might ask for, however, such as X-rays.

Some Medicare Advantage plans provide additional coverage benefits for chiropractic care. Check with your Advantage plan to confirm what chiropractic procedures are eligible. Even better, Health has useful comprehensive reviews of Medicare Advantage plans.

  • Medical Nutrition Therapy

Medical nutrition therapy is nutrition-based treatment administered by a registered dietitian nutritionist. Medicare Part B may cover nutrition therapy services, but with specific qualifiers. Patients diagnosed with diabetes or kidney disease or those who have had a kidney transplant in the preceding 36 months may have Medicare cover part or all of their nutrition therapy costs.

Nutrition therapy services eligible may include initial lifestyle/nutrition assessment, management of lifestyle factors affecting diabetes, and follow-up visits to evaluate diet progress.

  • Obesity Screening and Counseling

Medicare Part B can cover sessions meant to help patients shed weight within a primary care facility, overseen by a qualified provider. Patients are eligible if they have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30.

The costs covered may include an initial screening for the patient’s BMI and additional behavioral therapy sessions. Therapy sessions may encompass dietary counseling and assessment meant to help the patient lose weight through exercise and diet.

  • Sleep Apnea

Medicare Part B covers Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy session for obstructive sleep apnea over a three-month trial period. This is conditional on the treatment being administered by a qualified provider.

Medicare coverage may continue past the three-month window. How? After an in-person appointment, your doctor must document that you meet certain conditions and that the CPAP therapy is helpful. If you had a CPAP machine prior to Medicare, Medicare may cover the cost of the CPAP machine, replacement of the machine or CPAP accessories.

  • Sleep Studies

Medicare Part B pays for Type I, II, III and IV sleep devices and exams if you have clinical symptoms and signs of sleep apnea. Note, however, that Medicare will only cover Type I exams if they are run at a sleep lab facility.

  • Smoking Cessation

Medicare Part B covers no more than two cessation counseling attempts per year for tobacco users. Each counseling attempt comprises as many as four in-person sessions with a participating provider.

Referral Needed

In the instances outlined here, Medicare will cover part, or all of the bill as long as the patient received a referral from their doctor or a qualified practitioner. Usually, these procedures are covered because they are taken as adjunct to a conventional treatment plan, or an alternative to individuals who decline conventional interventions.


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  1. S
    October 30, 08:06 Sonia Devine

    Nice informative post.

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