Can Your Health Insurance Cover Alternative Medicine?

When people search for quality health insurance, they usually have potential doctor visits and emergency situations on their minds. However, almost a third of the United States has caught on the alternative medicine either by trend or by tried and true results. As it turns out, that one-third of the population tends to pay for these alternative methods out of their own pocket.

The cost of homeopathic remedies isn’t cheap, but many Americans might be surprised to learn their health insurance might cover some if not all of the cost when used correctly. Does your health insurance cover alternative medicine?

Uncovering the Truth​

Health professionals and bloggers alike that support natural remedies have more than quadrupled in just the last few years. As a result, Americans have spent over $30 billion dollars on everything from herbal supplements to yoga and cupping. This has lead many to wonder whether or not these preventative measures to their health can be reimbursed by their insurance plans.

While we may see some changes in the near future, the Affordable Care Act currently requires insurers to include coverage for alternative medicine from licensed health care providers. That includes naturopaths, massage therapists, and acupuncturists. Unfortunately, that does not mean the same thing as requiring coverage.

Insurance companies can limit coverage if they decide the treatments are not medically necessary or too experimental, which tends to be a popular decision by many companies. This is usually defended by the insurer requiring proof that these alternative methods are effective as well as published in peer reviewed medical literature. That means that things like chiropractic care and electronic stimulation might be covered but things such as music therapy, aromatherapy, and other intervention methods are not.

​Know Your Coverage​

Every insurer is different, and no two policies are entirely alike. In order to know whether or not your insurance policy covers alternative medicine, you’ll need to know which questions to ask your provider.

Call your insurance company and ask if specific treatments you are considering are covered under your plan. Ask about deductibles and copay, if you are limited to a certain number of visits, and if there are any local alternative health care providers in your policy’s network. It is also important to ask if you will need a referral or prescription from your general practitioner for services or remedies.

Always write down who you talk to and what answers they give. It isn’t uncommon for contradicting statements or issues to arise later on. For instance, your provider could recommend that you add supplements to your existing prescriptions but charge an additional cost for adding them onto your coverage. Be thorough in your questioning, it will pay off later.

​Local Providers​

Your insurance will likely cover some form of alternative medicine, even if it is just a portion of the cost to see a chiropractor. After learning about what services will be covered, make phone calls to local treatment providers to discuss what insurance plans they accept and what rates they charge.

Several providers may charge a higher initial fee, causing you to pay more out of your pocket for the first visit, but lower their fees to make future visits more affordable. Try to get a good idea of how many visits you will need to reach a recovery point or to where returning would no longer be necessary.

While insurance companies may not want to cover a whole lot in the realm of alternative medicine, it’s worth finding out what treatments you can save money on instead of footing the bill yourself by paying for every single remedy out of your pocket.

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