Does Medicare Cover Chiropractic Services?

If you’re wondering, “does Medicare cover chiropractic care?”, the answer is yes, but with specific limitations. Medicare typically covers chiropractic services only for spinal subluxation through manual manipulation.

However, it does not extend to maintenance therapy, other chiropractic services, or associated tests like X-rays. This article will guide you through the nuances of what does Medicare cover chiropractic-wise, what it doesn’t, and the costs involved.


Key Takeaways

  • Medicare covers chiropractic care specifically for spinal subluxation through manual manipulation, but does not cover ongoing, maintenance care, preventive visits, or alternative treatments such as massage therapy and acupuncture.


  • Diagnostic services like X-rays or tests ordered by a chiropractor are not covered by Medicare, potentially leading to out-of-pocket expenses for patients, which calls for a clear understanding of the coverage limitations.


  • Medicare Advantage plans may offer broader coverage for chiropractic services than traditional Medicare, but benefits vary among plans, requiring patients to compare plans carefully to understand chiropractic benefits and out-of-pocket costs.

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Understanding Medicare Chiropractic Coverage

Chiropractic care is a healthcare discipline that focuses on diagnosing and treating mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine. It encompasses a range of techniques and therapies, including:


  • Soft tissue therapy
  • Exercise recommendations
  • Lifestyle counseling
  • Joint manipulation


Despite the breadth of chiropractic treatments, Medicare’s coverage is specific and limited.


Chiropractic Services Not Covered by Medicare

Chiropractic services, specifically for spinal subluxation – a condition where the spine’s vertebrae are misaligned – are covered by Medicare through manual manipulation. Yet, once the spine is realigned, ongoing or maintenance chiropractic care is not included in the coverage.

The coverage hinges on medical necessity, implying that to qualify, the treatment has to be crucial for diagnosing or addressing a medical condition and its symptoms, conforming to established medical standards.


Spinal Subluxation and Medicare

Spinal subluxation is a condition where the alignment, movement, and physiological function of the spine deviate from the normal structural condition. This misalignment can cause pain, discomfort, and other health issues. Medicare recognizes spinal subluxation as a condition that can be addressed through chiropractic care.

The coverage provided by Medicare is specifically for spinal subluxation that can be treated through manual manipulation, a technique where the practitioner uses their hands or a device to apply a controlled thrust to the misaligned joint of the spine.

However, it’s important to note that the coverage provided by Medicare is limited only to treatment for spinal subluxation and does not extend to preventive chiropractic care.


Manual Manipulation of the Spine

Manual manipulation of the spine is a chiropractic technique that involves using hands or a device to apply a controlled thrust to a joint of the spine. The force applied may vary, but it’s intended to move the joint beyond its natural range of motion. This represents the main treatment for spinal subluxation that Medicare covers.

This technique aims to realign the vertebrae to their original position and alleviate nerve compression. This helps address the pain and stiffness associated with spinal subluxation. However, keep in mind that once the spine is realigned, Medicare doesn’t offer coverage for ongoing or maintenance chiropractic care.

Chiropractic Services Not Covered by Medicare

While Medicare covers chiropractic care for spinal subluxation, it does not provide blanket coverage for all chiropractic services. There are specific services, particularly preventive visits and alternative treatments, which are not covered by Medicare. Understanding these limitations can help you avoid any unexpected out-of-pocket costs.


How many chiropractic visits does medicare cover in a year



Preventive chiropractic visits, intended to prevent illnesses or disorders, are not covered by Medicare. This aligns with Medicare’s focus on specific doctors’ services, outpatient care, and medical supplies. Moreover, Medicare excludes alternative treatments such as massage therapy and acupuncture, which are sometimes provided by chiropractors as part of their services.


Preventive Visits and Alternative Treatments

The absence of Medicare coverage for preventive chiropractic visits can seem paradoxical, especially since prevention is a cornerstone of healthcare.

However, Medicare has specific rules and regulations that govern its coverage. For chiropractic care, Medicare’s coverage is limited to only cover manual manipulation of the spine for the correction of a subluxation.

It should also be highlighted that Medicare doesn’t offer coverage for alternative treatments such as massage therapy and acupuncture. Although these services are beneficial, they don’t meet the ‘medically necessary’ criteria under Medicare’s stipulations for chiropractic care. As such, they are not included in Medicare’s coverage for chiropractic care.


The Role of X-rays and Diagnostic Tests

Another crucial aspect to consider is the role of X-rays and diagnostic tests in chiropractic care. You might wonder why these tests, which are commonly used in medical treatments, are excluded from Medicare coverage when ordered by a chiropractor.

This is due to Medicare’s restriction of chiropractic coverage to manual manipulation of the spine for subluxation correction, without encompassing additional diagnostics or treatments.

In essence, Medicare does not provide any exceptions for the coverage of X-rays and diagnostic tests ordered by chiropractors. This includes the CPT 98943 code for chiropractic treatments to extraspinal regions and any diagnostic tests prescribed by chiropractors, such as X-rays, for the treatment of spinal subluxation.

Awareness of this limitation is critical, given that out-of-pocket costs for these services can vary, ranging from $100 to $1,000, with common expenses falling between $260 and $460.

The Costs of Chiropractic Care with Medicare

Understanding the costs associated with chiropractic care under Medicare is equally important. There are three primary cost-related aspects to consider: the annual Part B deductible, the coinsurance payment, and the Medicare-approved amount for chiropractic care.

The annual deductible for Medicare Part B in relation to chiropractic services is $240 in 2025. Once this deductible is met, Medicare begins providing coverage for these services. Once the deductible is met, individuals are accountable for a 20 percent coinsurance payment for chiropractic care under Medicare.


Does medicare part b cover chiropractors



Medicare Part B then covers the remaining 80 percent of the Medicare-approved amount. This approved amount is determined by the Physician Fee Schedule, which takes into account the maximum therapeutic benefit achievable for a given condition.


Meeting the Deductible

The annual Part B deductible for Medicare is an important aspect of understanding your potential costs. For 2025, this deductible is set at $240. This deductible must be met before Medicare begins providing coverage for chiropractic services.

Virtually any item or service covered by Medicare Part B will be considered in meeting the deductible, including medicare cover for:


  • Clinical research
  • Ambulance services
  • Durable medical equipment (DME)
  • Mental health services
  • Inpatient and outpatient services


Not all chiropractic services count towards fulfilling the Medicare Part B deductible. The specific benefits will vary depending on your plan.

Under Part B of Original Medicare, 80% of your covered chiropractic treatment will be paid after the deductible is met, and you will be accountable for the remaining 20% of the cost.


Coinsurance and Medicare-Approved Amounts

In addition to the deductible, another important term to understand is coinsurance. Within the context of Medicare, this typically represents a proportion of the Medicare-approved sum that individuals are responsible for paying for services subsequent to fulfilling any deductibles. The coinsurance percentage for chiropractic care may fluctuate based on the medical insurance plan and the specific services availed.

The term ‘Medicare-approved amounts’ in relation to chiropractic services denotes the amount determined by Medicare as reasonable for a specific chiropractic service. Medicare provides coverage for medically necessary spinal manipulation to correct acute or chronic subluxation, but it does not extend coverage to other services or tests ordered by a chiropractor, such as X-rays, massage therapy, and acupuncture.

The typical out-of-pocket expenses for chiropractic treatments covered by Medicare can vary from $60 to $200 or higher per session, and are influenced by the provider’s location and the specific type of treatment received.

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Medicare Advantage Plans and Chiropractic Benefits

Medicare Advantage plans may provide enhanced benefits for chiropractic care. As an alternative to traditional Medicare, these plans can offer extended coverage for services not included in the original Medicare, such as preventive visits and alternative treatments. However, bear in mind that the degree of coverage varies among plans.

Some Medicare Advantage plans may include additional coverage for chiropractic services. This Medicare cover chiropractic benefits individuals who seek chiropractic care within their plan network. However, while some plans may cover some or all of the costs for chiropractic services, the extent of coverage can differ based on the individual and the provider.

These Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide coverage for at least the same chiropractic services as original Medicare, but there may be variations in copayments and deductibles. So, it’s essential to understand if your specific plan includes medicare cover chiropractic services.


Comparing Medicare Advantage Plans

When evaluating Medicare Advantage Plans, it is important to consider key factors such as:


  • Network coverage
  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Costs
  • Extra benefits
  • Quality of care
  • Travel coverage
  • Coverage rules


Additionally, it is advisable to assess the limitation of chiropractic care under Medicare Part B and the specific terms of each plan.


Does medicare advantage cover chiropractic



Medicare Advantage plans may provide coverage for chiropractic treatments, with the specifics varying for each plan member. While Part B covers spinal manipulation for active treatment, Advantage plans have the potential to broaden this coverage.

The costs for chiropractic services under these plans can vary, typically ranging from $5 to $20 per adjustment, and may include variable copayments and deductibles.


How to Find a Plan That Covers Chiropractic Care

Finding a Medicare Advantage plan that offers chiropractic coverage requires some research and comparison. You can use various online tools, such as the Medicare Plan Finder on, to compare Medicare Advantage plans for chiropractic coverage.

When comparing Medicare Advantage plans for chiropractic coverage, one should take into account the following factors:


  • The options available in their area
  • The costs associated with the plan
  • The coverage details, including whether routine or maintenance chiropractic care is included


It’s important to note that the coverage specifics of Medicare Advantage plans often change, so it’s recommended to check the current details with your medicare advantage plan directly for accuracy.

Seeking Chiropractic Care: The Importance of a Primary Care Provider

Your primary care provider plays a crucial role in your journey towards chiropractic care under Medicare. Not only do they refer patients to chiropractors, but they also coordinate their overall healthcare. This close relationship between your primary care provider and your chiropractor can significantly enhance your healthcare experience.

Your primary care provider assesses the medical necessity of chiropractic treatments for a Medicare patient by evaluating whether the patient has a spinal subluxation, which can be determined through a doctor’s exam or an X-ray.

One should note that a primary care provider might not issue a referral for chiropractic care, considering that Medicare patients usually don’t need a referral to consult a chiropractor. However, the decision to accept Medicare patients rests solely with the chiropractor.


Referrals and Medically Necessary Treatments

For Medicare to cover chiropractic care, the following requirements must be met:


  1. A referral from your primary care provider for medically necessary treatment is required.
  2. The treatment must be essential for diagnosing or addressing an illness, injury, condition, or disease and its symptoms.
  3. The treatment must adhere to established medical standards.


The required documentation for Medicare to cover chiropractic care includes:


  • Evidence of spinal subluxation through x-ray or physical examination
  • CT scan or MRI if necessary
  • Documentation validating the necessity of manual manipulation
  • Patient’s medical history and treatment details


It is noteworthy that a renewal for ongoing chiropractic treatments under Medicare is not needed once a referral is obtained.


Communicating with Your Primary Care Provider

Maintaining open communication with your primary care provider can be instrumental in ensuring you receive the appropriate chiropractic care covered by Medicare. Discussing its benefits, sharing personal experiences, and highlighting the demonstrated effectiveness and safety of chiropractic treatments can facilitate this process.

When contemplating chiropractic care covered by Medicare, there are some key questions you should ask your primary care provider. These include:


  1. Understanding the rationale behind their recommendation of chiropractic care
  2. The extent of coverage provided by Medicare for such treatment
  3. The criteria for medical necessity to ascertain comprehensive coverage.

Chiropractic Care as an Alternative to Opioids for Chronic Pain

In recent years, there has been a growing body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of chiropractic care as an alternative to opioids for chronic pain management.


Does medicare plan g cover chiropractic services



Chiropractic care is recommended over opioid prescriptions for chronic pain relief and has demonstrated efficacy in reducing the use of opioids for conditions such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, and other musculoskeletal pain.

However, it is crucial to consider the potential risks and side effects associated with chiropractic care, which include severe osteoporosis, numbness, tingling, loss of strength in limbs, spinal cancer, heightened risk of stroke, headaches, fatigue, and discomfort in treated body parts.

It is also noteworthy that Medicare provides coverage for other non-opioid pain management alternatives, including acupuncture for chronic low back pain and physical therapy for a variety of conditions. This offers patients more options for non-drug pain management.


The Impact of Chiropractic Care on Chronic Low Back Pain

Chronic low back pain is a common ailment that affects many people. Chiropractic care has shown to have a positive impact on this condition. In fact, chiropractic care is suggested as the primary approach for managing chronic spinal pain instead of prescribing opioids.

It has been linked to reduced opioid usage in both the short and long term, and can lead to moderate short-term enhancements in low back pain.

Chiropractors utilize techniques such as:


  • Spinal manipulation
  • Exercise advice
  • Self-care strategies
  • Massage
  • Heat therapy
  • Electrical stimulation


They also address factors such as nutrition, stress, and exercise when treating chronic low back pain. These treatments have demonstrated a beneficial impact on pain intensity, disability, and function in individuals experiencing chronic low back pain.

Moreover, they are regarded as a cost-effective substitute for long-term low back pain compared to physical therapy.


Medicare’s Coverage of Acupuncture and Physical Therapy

In addition to chiropractic care, Medicare also covers acupuncture for chronic low back pain. This coverage is in accordance with section 1862(a)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act. It allows for up to 12 acupuncture visits within a 90-day period, with the possibility of an additional 8 sessions covered if there is demonstrable improvement.

Physical therapy for a range of chronic pain conditions is also covered by Medicare. This offers additional non-opioid pain management options for patients. The comprehensive details regarding coverage for occupational and physical therapy can be accessed on the official Medicare website.


We’ve journeyed through an in-depth exploration of Medicare’s coverage for chiropractic care, understanding the nuances of what is covered and what isn’t.

We’ve discovered that while Medicare does cover chiropractic care for spinal subluxation through manual manipulation, it does not extend to preventive visits, alternative treatments, or X-rays and diagnostic tests ordered by chiropractors. We’ve also learned that the costs of chiropractic care under Medicare include meeting the deductible, paying 20% coinsurance, and covering the Medicare-approved amount.

We’ve also explored how Medicare Advantage plans can offer additional chiropractic benefits and how to find a plan that suits your needs. We’ve emphasized the importance of your primary care provider in accessing chiropractic care and the role they play in providing referrals and ensuring treatments are medically necessary.

Lastly, we’ve highlighted how chiropractic care can serve as an alternative to opioids for managing chronic pain, and other non-opioid pain management options covered by Medicare, such as acupuncture and physical therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions



How many chiropractic adjustments does Medicare cover per year?

Medicare does not have a limit on the number of covered chiropractic visits, but each visit must be deemed medically necessary for spinal manipulation to correct a subluxation.


When was chiropractic first included in Medicare?

Chiropractic care was first included in Medicare in 1972. Since then, efforts have continued to expand the services that chiropractors can provide to Medicare beneficiaries.


What does chiropractic care entail, and does Medicare cover it?

Yes, chiropractic care includes soft tissue therapy and joint manipulation to address issues related to bones, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and Medicare covers chiropractic services specifically for spinal subluxation through manual manipulation.


Does Medicare cover ongoing or maintenance chiropractic care?

No, Medicare does not cover ongoing or maintenance chiropractic care once the spine is realigned.


What chiropractic services are not covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not cover preventive chiropractic visits, alternative treatments, or X-rays and diagnostic tests ordered by chiropractors. This includes services like massage therapy and acupuncture as well.

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Russell Noga
( Medicare Expert )

Russell Noga is the CEO of ZRN Health & Financial Services, and head content editor of several Medicare insurance online publications. He has over 15 years of experience as a licensed Medicare insurance broker helping Medicare beneficiaries learn about Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medigap insurance, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.