Medicare is a federally administered health insurance program for those who are age 65 and over, as well as for certain disabled individuals and individuals who suffer from End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) who are under the age of 65. The Medicare program, established in 1965, consists of four primary parts which include coverage for hospital services, medical and doctors’ services, and prescription drug coverage.
Although Medicare pays for a wide array of different health care services for its participants, it does not cover all of the services that an individual may want or need. Some of Medicare’s non-covered services include those that are in the area of alternative medication and healing.
Alternative Methods of Healing
Alternative medicine can be deemed as any of the various types of healing or treating disease such as homeopathy or faith healing that are not included in the medical curricula that is taught in the medical schools in either the United States or in Great Britain.
Alternative medicine can encompass a broad range of different types of healing approaches that are not typically used in Western medicine. Many of these are holistic methods, while many may also emphasize both the prevention of disease as well as education on wellness and disease prevention.
One form of alternative healing, naturopathy, is defined as using the treatment of illness by using diet, herbs, exercises, and other more natural methods without using surgery or standard drugs.
This type of treatment places an emphasis on the use of more natural healing agents such as herbs, water, and air, as well as physical means such as electrotherapy, acupuncture, and tissue manipulation for healing the overall body.
Although many of these healing methods are considered to be "alternative" in the West, a majority of these practices are the primary source of health care for up to 80 percent of the populations of less developed countries.
While some alternative health care practices may be useless - or even harmful - there are others that are quite useful and effective, and can even provide treatment in areas where more conventional methods have not been able to succeed.
Oftentimes these alternate methods can recognize that the connection between the mind and the body are important to the success of both the healing process, as well as to the process of disease prevention. By taking part in such health care techniques, people can oftentimes better manage their pain, reduce their stress, and take a much more active role in their overall health care.
Does Medicare Cover Natural Healing Methods?
In most instances, Medicare will not cover services that are considered to be alternative medicine. Therefore, Medicare does not cover chiropractic services (except for the purpose of fixing the subluxation of the spine) or acupuncture. It also does not cover other types of alternative or complementary health care or herbal remedy treatments under either Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B.
Where Can You Obtain Medicare Coverage for Naturopathy and Other Alternative Healing?
Although Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) does not cover alternative treatments such as acupuncture, you may be able to obtain coverage for such treatments by obtaining a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan.
While Medicare Advantage plans are required to offer similar benefits to that are offered in Original Medicare, these benefits do not have to be identical. In addition, Medicare Advantage plans are also allowed to provide additional types of coverage.
Therefore, you may find Medicare Advantage plans that include services such as acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic, and more. Other covered services that may be helpful to both healing and preventive care may include nutritional counseling and exercise rehab.